Unbalanced gender ratios in higher education impact dating, relationships

Women have outnumbered men in undergraduate enrollment for years, accounting for 55 percent of undergraduates enrolled at four-year colleges in the United States, according to the Federal Education Department. For decades, this gap has increasingly widened, and is predicted to grow further in years to come. Fewer men working toward their undergraduate degree means there are more single women on college campuses.

Numerous studies reveal that college-educated Americans are also increasingly disinterested in marrying, or even dating, those lacking a college degree. This inclination largely affects the dating market for college-educated women seeking relationships with men. 

Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reveal that, “there are 5.5 million college-educated women in the U.S. between the ages of 22 and 29 versus 4.1 million such men. Among college grads there are 7.4 million women versus 6.0 million men—five women to every four men,” as reported by an article published in Time Magazine. 

Disproportionate gender ratios make it difficult for heterosexual college-educated women to find a partner. Sociologists, economists and psychologists who have studied sex ratios throughout history find that many cultures are less likely to value monogamous relationships when women are “in oversupply,” according to Time Magazine. 

“Heterosexual men are more likely to play the field, and heterosexual women must compete for men’s attention,” Time Magazine reports. 

Unnecessary emphasis on the importance of romantic relationships compounds promotion of unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. These concepts are largely marketed to young women, and when these hopes are left unmet, many women feel at a loss, or like they have done something wrong. 

Women who are single often face marginalization and judgement, regardless of whether they choose to be single or not. Additionally, if an educated woman seeks a relationship with a man who has a similar educational background, the numbers are not in her favor, according to business journalist Jon Birger in his book, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. This doesn’t mean young women need to find a partner, however, instead of pursuing a rigorous and successful career.

“It’s not that he’s just not into you,” Birger said. “It’s that there aren’t enough of him.” For many this comes as a relief, however, for some, these statistics can be downright depressing. Still, several straight women don’t prioritize finding a man with whom to start a relationship.

Those who do though, and prefer men who are educated, are met not only with a statistical conundrum from limiting themselves so greatly, but they are encouraging men to be overly selective, The Guardian reports. 

It’s important not to think “supply and demand when contemplating matters of the heart,” according to Birger. While it is a curious component to consider, especially on a predominantly female campus, it’s equally important to note that individuals are going to meet the right, or wrong person, regardless of the statistics.