Women are fuelling the crisis of wokeism on campus, and in society
Women are more likely to graduate from university, skew politically leftward and have less regard for free speech
An Angus Reid poll that canvassed the voting intentions of 5,000 Canadians from March 6-13 uncovered a wide gender gap between Conservative and Liberal supporters. Overall, the Liberals trail (29 per cent to 35 per cent). But while a plurality of men say they would vote Conservative if an election were held tomorrow, 44 per cent of women under 35 say they would vote for the NDP and 42 per cent of women over 55 intend to vote Liberal.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has his work cut out for him on that front. But he should understand that it’s got nothing to do with him personally. Numerous studies have concluded that educated women trend ideologically leftward at greater rates than men.
And since there are more women completing degrees in higher education — in 2016, 40.7 per cent of Canadian women and 29.1 per cent of men aged 25-34 had a bachelor’s degree or higher — it’s no great surprise that their progressive convictions, reinforced and honed in university, are reflected in their voting patterns.
The UCLA Higher Education Research Institute has been conducting freshman surveys every year since 1966. Until 1980, men were more liberal than women. In the early and mid-1980s, men and women were, politically, roughly at par.
But since 1987, women have moved farther left than men. The 2016 survey of 137,456 first-year students at 184 colleges and universities in the United States found that 41 per cent of women identified as liberal or far left, compared to 29 per cent of men.
This is bad news for the precarious state of freedom of speech. A 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey posed the question to 3,014 college students: “If you had to choose, which do you think is more important”: a diverse and inclusive society or protecting free speech? Male students chose the protection of free speech by a solid 61 to 39 per cent, while female students favoured an inclusive, diverse society over free speech by 64 to 35 per cent.
Dennis Chong, a political scientist at the University of Southern California, told the New York Times that, “A gender gap in political tolerance, with women being somewhat more willing to censor controversial and potentially harmful ideas, goes back to the earliest survey research on the subject in the 1950s.”
Women are, in short, more woke than men, and the more there are of them in universities, the more woke our culture will become, and the more intellectual rigour will lose ground to feelings, “lived experience,” therapeutics and safetyism.
In a City Journal article, conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald calls it “the Great Feminization of the American university,” lamenting that, “the traumification of everyday life, like other modern academic trends, is fast spreading outside the campus.”
A Quillette article on the effect of women in academia by behavioural scientist Cory Clark and Quillette associate editor Bo Weingard provides extensive statistical ballast for Mac Donald’s observations. Men and women view the purpose of higher education and science differently, they state.
On average, “women are more willing to suppress science for moral reasons, and men are more willing to allow offensive or even potentially harmful ideas to be shared. (In time), support for including moral and harm concerns into the scientific and publishing process is likely to increase, and support for academic freedom is likely to decline.”
Women account for 80 per cent of gender studies graduates in the U.S., which are essentially activism boot camps in radical gender ideology. These are the women disproportionately likely to end up as diversity, equity and inclusion administrators in universities, and to be in a position to enforce the illiberal tendencies they sharpened in university.
Taken together, studies show that women in higher education are more likely than men to: believe hate speech is a form of violence; endorse shutting down a speaker; defer to Indigenous “ways of knowing” as equal in value to science; approve censure of scientific findings if they conflict with woke doctrine; and claim it should be illegal to say offensive things about certain minorities.
When female activists meet with verbal opposition — as anyone who watches student protests on YouTube can observe — they are far more likely than men to react emotionally, sobbing or screaming, which effectively shuts down any dialogue, let alone the kind of open, sometimes abrasive debate that typifies male-dominated forums (like the male-dominant university I attended in the early ’60s, where I learned to think critically and fight my polemical corner with evidence, never — ugh! — tears).
A 2011 study found that women cry emotional tears an average of 30-64 times per year, compared to five to 17 times for men. And it’s not the male students who are asking for “a designated place on campus to cry,” as one female student demanded during a cancellation crisis at Georgetown University’s law school.
In his Substack, Richard Hanania, president of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, tackled the quandary in an insightful recent post titled, “Women’s tears win in the marketplace of ideas.” He notes that it’s considered bad form to make women cry, while neither women nor men have sympathy for men who cry.
Hanania concludes that, “Society has been pretty good at recognizing the harms that come from the excesses of masculinity. We haven’t even begun to think carefully about equivalent pathologies stemming from traits of the other sex.” He’s right. It’s time we did.
Because if present trends continue — conditions certainly favour that scenario — Liberals will happily shift their policies further woke-ward to accommodate increasingly progressive women, while no conservative candidate, however attractive and reasonable, can escape the burden of an ineluctable gender handicap that may prove insurmountable.