The New Gender Gap: Why Over 60% of College Graduates are Female

October 21, 2014

Today, over 60% of college graduates with bachelor’s degrees are women. This is a total reversal of the graduation breakdown by gender of only 50 years ago. So why the change? Research shows that not only are fewer are men going to college these days, but even those that do are dropping out at a much higher rate than their female counterparts. 

The next question that naturally arises is what might prompt these students to quit school. Are women generally more committed to school work? Are men less capable of dealing with the strain of college? While these speculations are difficult to quantify studies have found several other tangible reasons as to why the gender gap is becoming so prominent in colleges.

Financing and money factor prominently into this college graduation gender gap. Studies have shown that men are not as willing to go into debt: male students are less inclined to take out student loans than their female counterparts, and are more inclined to believe the best route is to leave school and begin working full time, rather than accumulate thousands of dollars of student debt to finance their education. Indeed, it’s been shown that men who don’t attend college, or drop out before finishing their education, are at less of a financial disadvantage than are women who make that same decision. Women who drop out of college are likely to receive about 7,000 dollars less than their male  coworker, regardless of whether those men finished college. Since it is so much harder for a female college dropout to find a job that pays enough to keep up with the cost of living, women have greater incentive to strive to attain a college degree, with which they can attain a much higher salary. Men, on the other hand, can expect to receive the same entry-level salary whether or not they hold a degree - so the time and money required to attain a college degree just isn’t as worth it.

Other studies have shown that the reason fewer males attend college is a result of their overall high school experience. Boys generally reported disliking school more than girls. This has been attributed, in part, to the societal norms regarding masculinity: Male students are less likely to get involved in foreign language  classes, music, art, and drama, because those classes are widely considered to be more feminine. . However, male students who do participate in those classes attained higher overall grades in school. Researchers say that dealing with the facts presented above would help tremendously in closing the gender gap and promoting equal college attendance amongst all young people, regardless of gender.

 

 



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