The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s (FIRE) 2024 free expression data which captures over fifty-five thousand voices from 254 colleges and universities powerfully illustrates these critically important gender-based differences that are now pronounced on our campuses today. Ideological differences, for instance, are noteworthy. Almost 55 percent of female students identify as liberal, while only 13 percent identify as moderate and 15 percent identify as conservative. Almost 40 percent of men, however, identify as liberal, 16 percent identify as moderate, and 25 percent identify as conservative.
At the top 25 schools, per US News, 71 percent of women and 54 percent of men identify as liberal, while only 8 percent of women and 18 percent of men identify as conservative. Outside of elite schools, at colleges and universities ranked lower than 200, about 45 percent of women and a third of men identify as liberal, while 18 percent of women and 27 percent of men identify as conservative. Elite colleges dominate social discourse but are fortunately not representative of the American public.
Turning to speech and limiting discourse, at first glance, men and women appear to agree on stifling speech on campus. About 29 percent of men and a third (33 percent) of women believe that it is “always” or “sometimes acceptable” to shout down a speaker from speaking on campus. However, at elite schools, about 41 percent of women find at least some cases where shouting down a speaker is acceptable, compared to a notably lower 32 percent of men.
At lower-ranked institutions, about 26 percent of men and 29 percent of women believe shouting down a speaker is “sometimes” or “always” acceptable. Most students at these schools are far more interested in hearing speakers speak and gender differences are minor. Once again, elite schools have an outsized voice in the political climate on campus.
Throughout colleges and universities, male and female students were asked which speakers should be allowed to speak on campus. About 43 percent of male students and 67 percent of female students say that a speaker claiming that “abortion should be completely illegal” should not be allowed to speak on campus. When asked if a speaker who claims that “Black Lives Matter is a hate group” should speak on campus, 57 percent of male students and 81 percent of female students say that speaker should not be allowed to speak on campus.