Gender Differences in Habits, Attitudes and Consequences of College Drinking at Bucknell

Nationally, college-aged men and women have different drinking attitudes and behaviors, but it is useful to examine the differences here at Bucknell.

Figure 1 shows the percent of male and female Bucknell students who abstained, drank 3 or more drinks in a sitting, and who drank 6 or more drinks in a sitting in a typical evening (when they drank), senior year in high school.

Figure 1

Women were 9 percentage points more likely to abstain, and far less likely to drink heavily (6 or more drinks usually in an evening)- nearly 7 times less likely than men.

Early College Drinking

More students of both genders drink upon arrival as freshman, and the rates of heavy drinking increase dramatically, shown in Figure 2:

Consumption increases heavily in from high school to fall semester of student's freshmen year. Three times as many women consume 6 or more drinks in a sitting than did in high school, one and a half times as many men do the same. Abstention has dropped 44% for women and 50% for men. However, men are still 3 times as likely as women to fall into the heavy drinking category.

Current Consumption in a Sitting

As the figure 3 shows above, heavy drinking drops slightly for women and continues to increase, although not as dramatically, for men, relative to the beginning of their freshmen year. The rates of abstention drop another 62 % for men and 24% for women.

Nights Per Week

The intensity of consumption is only part of the picture-how often students drink (and drink heavily) is also germane. Figure 4 shows the changes over time in the percentage of students frequently drinking (3 or more nights in a typical week):

Men outpace women now and also drank more frequently during high school, but, interestingly, men and women reported similar rates of very frequent drinking when they first arrived on campus. Students were also asked for their own definition of what constituted binge drinking in on sitting, and under these definitions, half of men and a quarter of women self-report binging once a week. Fewer students, but still a substantial minority of men (24%), self-report binging 2 or more nights in a week.

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