We’re used to hearing about colleges conducting outreach to underrepresented groups—racial minorities, women, kids from Idaho. It’s less often, though, that you hear about a school trying to attract more men, let alone by offering them a specialized degree that will help them get rich. But that was the case 100 years ago at Boston University, where an almost impossible-to-believe organization called the More Men Movement agitated to change the gender balance on campus.
As an article in last Thursday’s edition of BU Today explained, the BU Class of 1910 featured nine times more women than men, leading the school to be referred to, derogatorily, as a “girls’ college.” This upset some of the school’s proudly male alumni, including Everett W. Lord, who founded the More Men Movement and sold the BU trustees on a plan to attract more men by starting a business school.
Today, men attending “b-school” isn’t any more novel than boys playing baseball, but 100 years ago, future titans learned their industries by apprenticing, and business didn’t even exist as a category in American higher education. That began to change, though, around the same time the More Men Movement took off at BU.
In the early 20th century, the American economy was growing increasingly complex, which led to a push for specialized education in accounting, finance, and business principles. BU capitalized on this trend by opening the College of Business Administration in October 1913, making it the first school in New England to offer an undergraduate business degree. More importantly (from the perspective of the More Men Movement), 85 percent of the inaugural class was male.
Since then, the College of Business Administration has been renamed the School of Management, and the percentage of male students has dropped to 55 percent. Even at that reduced rate, though, business education is still doing a brisk trade in men for BU, though hardly anyone would be inclined to think of its effects in those terms anymore.
You can read the complete BU Today article here.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.