It is fairly well known that women today outnumber men in American colleges. In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college and 1.3 females for every male undergraduate. That contrasts with 1960, when there were 1.6 males for every female graduating from a U.S. four-year college and 1.55 males for every female undergraduate. How come this switch?
In The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap (NBER Working Paper No. 12139), authors Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, and Ilyana Kuziemko offer some explanations for the change. In the post-World War II era, they note, the financial return to women of higher education greatly increased. At first, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, women tended to pursue female-intensive occupations such as teaching and social work after graduation. So, they majored in education, English, and literature, perhaps, and they often aimed at finding suitable mates in college.