Oberlin College was the first coeducational college to open in 1833. It took more than one hundred and thirty years for America’s top university, Princeton, to begin admitting women in 1969. Other Ivy League schools like Brown and Dartmouth followed suit in the early 70s.

These changes were a reaction to the second wave feminist movement which took place in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1990s, more women were applying to college than men. In the 2021-2022 academic year, nearly 60% of all college students were women.

Affirmative Action for Men?

In late September, the New York Times ran a headline reporting that declining male enrollment has led many colleges to adopt an unofficial policy: affirmative action for men. The NYT pointed out that there are 3 women for every 2 men in college in this country, and the gender ratio is skewed in a pronounced way across US colleges and universities. That is not the case when it comes to Ivy+ universities admissions rates.

An analysis by Dimension Admissions shed light on the gender disparities in admission rates and enrollment across America’s most prestigious universities. The analysis examined Common Data Set data from the top twenty universities, as ranked by US News & World Report — otherwise known as Ivy+ schools.

It is true that 12 of 20 Ivy+ schools admitted more women than men for the Class of 2026 (Harvard, Yale, Penn, Duke, Hopkins, Northwestern, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley, UCLA, and Vanderbilt) and 8 of 20 Ivy+ schools admitted more men than women for the Class of 2026 (MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Princeton (based on last year’s data), University of Chicago, Rice, Dartmouth, Notre Dame). These numbers suggest at first glance that men are getting an affirmative action bump across Ivy+ universities that’s similar to the edge men are being granted across US colleges and universities in general.

Ivy+ Admission Rates Paint a Clearer Picture

Admissions rates tell a different story. Admit rates favor men at 40% Ivy+ schools; admit rates favor women at 35% Ivy+ schools; admit rates favor non-binary students at 5% of Ivy+ schools; admit rates are even across 20% of Ivy+ schools; and the three biggest disparities in admit rates by gender occurred at Hopkins in favor of non-binary applicants; Cal Tech in favor of women applicants; and MIT in favor of men applicants. So men may be getting an admissions edge across US colleges and universities, in general, their edge is barely there when evaluating admit rates at our nation’s most elite universities.

Across Top 10 schools, men have no edge at all – half of the Top 10 schools favor women; three schools have even admissions rates across genders; one school has admissions rates that favor non-binary students; and only school has admissions rates that cleanly favor men.

Note that across Ivy+ universities, only fourteen universities include categories for non-binary students in their reporting data, while only seven schools reported any non-binary students enrolled (as of the 2022-2023 data sets). Across the Ivy League, only Dartmouth, Columbia and Yale report having accepted any non-binary/another gender (besides male or female) students in the most recent data set, and only seven schools reported any applications from non-binary/another gender students for the Class of 2026.

Gender Admission Rates: Key takeaways

The largest gender disparities in admissions rates across Ivy + schools were reported:

Admission Rates by Gender within Ivy+ Schools

Across Ivy+ schools (US News & World Report Top 20), admissions rates favored men at 8 out of 20 schools:

  1. Brown (where men are 66% more likely than women to be admitted)
  2. Yale (men 31% more likely to be admitted)
  3. Columbia (men 25% more likely to be admitted)
  4. University of Chicago (men 21% more likely to be admitted)
  5. Notre Dame (men 15% more likely to be admitted)
  6. Dartmouth (men 13% more likely to be admitted)
  7. Hopkins (men 9% more likely to be admitted)
  8. Vanderbilt (where men are 7% more likely than women to be admitted).

Admit rates favored women at 7 out of 20 Ivy+ schools:

  1. Cal Tech (where women are 141% more likely than men to be admitted)
  2. MIT (where women are 80% more likely to be admitted)
  3. Berkeley (women 60% more likely to be admitted)
  4. Cornell (women 22% more likely to be admitted)
  5. UCLA (women 22% more likely to be admitted)
  6. Stanford (women 20% more likely to be admitted)
  7. Duke (women 7% more likely to be admitted).

Admissions Data for “Other Gender” Applicants

For the Class of 2026, 3 out of 20 Ivy+ schools reported applicants identifying outside the gender binary: Hopkins, Berkeley and UCLA.

 

 

Gender Distribution within Ivy+ Schools: Total Student Body

The university with the highest percentage of male students is Caltech, where 60.97% of the total student body is male. The university with the highest percentage of female students is UCLA, where 56.19% of the total student body is female. Yale has the highest proportion of enrolled non-binary students, with 1.61% of its total student body identifying outside the gender binary

Across the top twenty/Ivy+ universities as a whole, an average of 50% of admits are men, 49.83% are women, and 0.17% are other genders.

 

Ivy+ Schools: Gender Distribution across Undergraduate Student Populations

There are stark differences in the gender divide among undergraduate and graduate students. Women are represented in considerably higher numbers across  Ivy+ undergraduate programs and men are represented in higher numbers  across Ivy+ graduate programs.

Across the top twenty universities, an average of 48.4% of undergraduate admits are men, 51.4% are women, and 0.2% are other genders.

Caltech has the highest proportion of men in its student body: 54.68% of students are men. It also grants the highest admissions edge to women across Ivy+ schools – women are 141% more likely to be admitted to Cal Tech than men are.

UCLA has the highest proportion of women in its student body: 59.49% of students are women, and women are still admitted at a higher rate than men: last year at UCLA, women were 22% more likely than men to be admitted.

 

Gender Distribution across Ivy+ Schools: Graduate Students

Graduate programs are majority male. The scale of the gender divide varies by university. Across Ivy+ schools, an average of 51.86% of graduate admits are men, 47.99% are women, and 0.14% are other genders.

Caltech is the Ivy+ school with the highest percentage of male graduate students where 65.33% of graduate admissions are men and 34.67% are women. Vanderbilt has the highest percentage of female graduate students where 60.30% of graduate admissions are women and 39.70% are men. Yale has the most significant proportion of graduate students identifying as some other gender, at 1.51%.

 

Gender Distribution across Ivy+ Schools: Nonbinary Students

Recent changes to the Common App allow students to report outside a male and female binary. These changes include:

 

In a report released in the fall of 2022, 1.85%% of college students (22,616 students) self-reported as non-binary, “another gender”, or marked more than one response when asked how they identify. This report used data from the Common Application, and pulled data from more than 1.22 million students.

Meanwhile, only 0.17% of students admitted to an Ivy+ university were reported as identifying as non-binary or another gender. This indicates that there may be a large gap between non-binary students applying to the 1,000+ schools which accept the common app, and the non-binary students applying to America’s most elite institutions. However, because only thirteen universities in the top twenty include categories for non-binary or “other gender” students, and only four out of eight Ivy League universities include that data, the data set is incomplete.

 

Methodology

Ivy+ admissions data was collected directly from the most recently released common data set found on each official school webpage. Data on nonbinary students is likely under-inclusive, as many Ivy+ universities do not yet have optionality for reporting gender outside of male and female.

About Dimension Admissions

Dimension Admissions offers a bespoke, four-dimensional, results-driven approach to prep school, undergraduate, and graduate school admissions. Our seasoned application strategists and expert essay specialists are published  writers, educators and scholars s educated at Ivy League and Ivy+ institutions We’re devoted to helping candidates craft essays that resonate and applications that shine. Engaging collaboratively from all-angles, we optimize applications, maximize admissions potentials and empower our candidates’ self actualizations as writers and thinkers.

Dimension offers clients the flexibility of hourly rates, or the security of an intensive application package at a flat fee. Dimension also offers a range of supplemental services, including extracurricular and course planning, standardized test prep, school list construction, and interview prep, as well as school-specific, major specific, and industry-specific, consults with Dimension Advisors.

Schedule an admissions consultation with them today.