From the NYT's "The New Math of Campus:"
North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges. Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students....
And then there's this:
Jayne Dallas, a senior studying advertising who was seated across the table, grumbled that the population of male undergraduates was even smaller when you looked at it as a dating pool. ”Out of that 40 percent, there are maybe 20 percent that we would consider, and out of those 20, 10 have girlfriends, so all the girls are fighting over that other 10 percent,” she said....
Has this ever actually been studied? A huge fraction of psychology studies are done on college students under the often dubious assumption that they are representative of humanity, so why not actually study college students qua college students?
The U. of North Carolina is probably one of the top ten state flagship universities, so its male s students are not exactly losers in the big picture of things. And, no, there are no engineers on campus:
Stephen M. Farmer, North Carolina’s director of admissions, said that the university has a high female presence in part because it does not have an engineering school, which at most schools tend to be heavily male. ...
One of the things that's going on here is age: Many of these U. of North Carolina coeds who won't pay any attention to half the male undergrads would be charmed by the same guys if they were a half dozen years older, more experienced, and more prosperous. But 19-year-old male undergrads strike them as callow. (The rule of thumb for Hollywood movies is that the hero should be around age 35. The heroine should be considerably younger.)
At colleges in big cities, women do have more options. ”By my sophomore year, I just had the feeling that there is nobody in this school that I could date,” said Ashley Crisostomo, a senior at Fordham University in New York, which is 55 percent female. She has tended to date older professionals in the city. [Probably some of whom are Fordham grads.]
But in a classic college town, the social life is usually limited to fraternity parties, local bars or coffeehouses. And college men – not usually known for their debonair ways – can be particularly unmannerly when the numbers are in their favor.
Our society uses the educational system to stratify by IQ. At the same time, the school system winds up stratifying socially by age, lumping males and females of the same birthyear together. And it maintains that age stratification longest for the highest IQ people (e.g., people who go to law school, grad school, and the like).
But young women tend to want slightly older, more worldly men, and high IQ young men tend to be particularly unworldly when they are young. They're thinking about Schrodinger's Cat or other kinds of difficult abstract ideas that you can only learn when you are young, rather than about the kinds of less lofty ideas that intrigue women.
Most other cultures have had less stratification of socializing by birth-year. A quick search suggests that in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, that ultimate authority for all this kind of top-of-the-head evo psych generalizing, Elizabeth Bennett is 20-years-old, while Mr. Darcy is 28.