Undergraduate enrollment at Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township reached an all-time high of 7,539 this past fall, an almost 2 percent increase from the year before.
But while every year for the past five there have been more students on campus, each year a smaller percentage of them have been men.
This year, 60 percent of Stockton’s undergraduate students are women and 40 percent are men, a gender gap increase of 6 percentage points in the past five years, according to the college’s Fall 2013 Enrollment Report.
The gap represents to some extent a statewide and national trend that college officials and researchers say may reflect the increasing number of women attending college more than an actual decrease in men.
But the types of programs offered by a college can also affect gender ratios. Enrollments show career stereotypes still exist.
“We don’t strategically market for gender,” said John Iacovelli, Stockton’s dean of enrollment management. “But when you have a nursing program, you will get more women.”
That career bias is most noticeable in the STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math.
The gender breakdown at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in fall 2012 was 79 percent men and 21 percent women. At Stevens Institute of Technology, it was 73 percent men and 27 percent women.
NJIT spokesman Matthew Golden said the school’s larger male population is the norm among polytechnic institutions.
He said school officials want more female students and offer pre-college programs to attract them. NJIT has added fields such as biomedical engineering that attract more female students and has developed campus student support programs specifically for them.
Rowan University was the only other state college to have a larger percentage of undergraduate men, 52 percent to 48 percent women in fall 2012. Admissions Director Al Betts said he suspects it is because of the school’s engineering program.
“The engineering program is so lopsided,” Betts said, noting that despite increased recruitment and interest, only about 15 percent of engineering students are female, while other majors are somewhat more balanced.
Both he and Iacovelli said they try to create a freshman class that has a balance of males and females, as well as ethnic and geographic diversity, but ultimately acceptances come down to the academic records of the students who apply and reflect the entire pool of applicants.
“Our acceptances follow the application patterns,” Betts said.
In fall 2012, most of the smaller state colleges and private colleges in New Jersey followed the statewide average of about 43 percent men and 57 percent women. Rutgers and Princeton universities were the closest to an even ratio. The ratio at the 19 community colleges was also close to 50/50, though it varied slightly by college.
Meanwhile, K-12 enrollment still shows slightly more males than females in the state’s public schools, with about 51 percent males to 49 percent females in 2012-13.
Data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics shows programs offered by colleges can affect gender enrollment. Women are far more likely to major in arts and humanities and education. Men are more likely to get degrees in STEM and physical sciences.
A 2006 Gender Gap report by the American Council on Education noted that the rate of degree attainment by both men and women has continued to rise, and part of the gap may be simply because the number of women attending college is rising faster than the number of men.
But the report also notes that minority and low-income men in particular have the lowest enrollments, and that the most striking change since 2000 is the increase in low-income female white and Hispanic women attending college compared to men in the same group.
The report says one argument for the increase in women attending college is that there are fewer decent-paying job opportunities for women who have just a high school diploma, which provides an incentive to attend college. It notes that blue-collar jobs for men are also more likely to be jobs with health care and benefits.
Students interviewed at Stockton said they don’t really notice the gender cap on campus, but they do see it in some of their classes.
Camille Nable, of Cherry Hill, a public health major, said there are more women in nursing classes but more men in public health administration classes. She said she hasn’t really noticed the gender gap but has heard it come up in conversations on campus.
Business management major Lisa Schmucker, of Pennington, Mercer County, said she has noticed that there is only a small number of women in some of her classes.
Male students interviewed eating lunch at the Campus Center also said a gender gap is noticeable in some majors. They said they hadn’t really noticed the overall ratio was more females, but 60/40 is fine with them.
“I’d probably notice more if it were the other way around,” said business major Ralph Venuto, of Blackwood, Camden County.
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