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Wonder Woman sets record + Men foregoing college. What does that mean for universities?

June 5, 2017

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, but Wonder Woman was a big hit opening this weekend with $103 million in domestic box office numbers and becoming the biggest debut by a female director.

On another note, the Denver Post recently reported on a national silent epidemic about the increasingly large number of young men forgoing college and with 30% of them dropping out during their freshman year. The cause? Unrealistic expectations by young men, the fear of taking on debt, and a seemingly lack of fit for the college experience.

What does Wonder Woman’s success and declining male enrollment have to do with each other? Wonder Woman promoted strength, unity, power, courage, wisdom, and progress among women at the risk of potentially isolating male fans with its female empowerment messaging and women-only screenings of the film. Today’s college campuses are becoming overwhelmingly female dominated with young women viewing education as the gateway to equality and independence and a culture that has been very nurturing of these aspirations. So what about the men?

For years, the push has been to encourage more young women to pursue STEM degrees, but has that been at the expense of failing to encourage young men to continue doing the same? Has the culture across college campuses been more encouraging and a better cultural fit for young women while inadvertently isolating the guys?

For colleges and higher education marketers, closing the gender gap for educational attainment requires hyper-targeted marketing and recruitment strategies that attract and retain males. Perhaps a video series with alumni men that could speak to this audience or promoting career paths that are attractive to them i.e. tech and engineering. Ultimately, the risk for not doing so has the potential of encouraging an unbalanced social and economic environment of achievement between the genders.

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