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In the years following World War II, college enrollments were swelled by veterans, who were mainly men, continuing their education under the GI Bill; by 1950 there were more than twice as many men as women on college campuses.
This trend made for an environment rich with possibilities for women interested in finding husbands, and it is likely that finding a desirable husband was one motivation for many women's college attendance through the 1950s and into the 1960s. The number of men per 100 women (the sex ratio) has continued to decline since that time, dropping to only 79 in 1997.
In addition, because women often depended on their husbands for social standing and economic security, it was not uncommon for women to drop out of college once they found a husband. As can be seen in Figure 1 (available only in the pdf version of this report), significant changes had occurred by 1980, by which time more women than men were enrolled in U. This change has reduced the opportunities for women to find desirable husbands at college.
Further, the great increase in divorce in the late 1960s and 1970s made it more hazardous for women to rely on husbands for economic security and social standing.
At the same time, there is a growing discussion in the U. about marriage and its benefits for children and society.
Numerous scholars are conducting research that investigates how marriages succeed and how troubled marriages can be improved.
This study seeks to examine the dating and courtship attitudes and values of contemporary college women, focusing on unmarried, heterosexual women enrolled as undergraduates in four-year colleges and universities in the United States.
An 18-month study of the attitudes and values of today's college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and marriage – involving in-depth interviews with a diverse group of 62 college women on 11 campuses, supplemented by 20-minute telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 college women – yields the following major findings.
All of us are fascinated by how young people meet and mate, and as a society we are particularly interested in how college students – the next generation of social leaders – make these decisions.
This study focuses on college women in part because they are at the leading edge of society – they are many of tomorrow's professionals, business leaders, and government officials – and they will have a disproportionate influence on their peers and on the next generation of young people.
In addition, another recent report has focused on the heterosexual relationships and marital aspirations of young American adults who are not enrolled in college, arguably leaving college students the segment of young adults whose mating practices are least understood. Although in this study we concentrate on the experiences of college women, future research should also be conducted on the mating and dating perspectives of college men.