The Alarming Gender Gap in African American College Participation Rates

pew-researchA new study by the Pew Research Center shows that for recent high school graduates, college participation rates of women far outpace those of men. The gender differences are particularly pronounced for African Americans.

According to the data, in 2012, 71 percent of women high school graduates of all races had enrolled in some type of postsecondary education program by October of that year. But only 61 percent of male 2012 high school graduates enrolled in higher education.

But the gender gap is even wider for African Americans. In 2012, 69 percent of African American women high school graduates enrolled in college by October of that year. For Black male high school graduates, the college participation rate was 57 percent.

The historical trend is troublesome. For African Americans, in 1994, men were nine percentage points more likely than women to enroll in college immediately after high school graduation. Now, Black women hold a 12 percentage-point advantage. This is a swing of 21 percentage points in 18 years.

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  1. This “alarming” disparity should surprise no one. As much as it is blasphemy to acknowledge it, the cultural practice among a wide proportion of African Americans continues to be “raising our daughters and loving our sons”. Part of that loving includes: treating sons as so fragile that they are never faced with any challenge greater than being Black in a racist world; not requiring that they be held responsible for their behavior; infantilizing them so that their egos not be bruised. This approach has not served us well. Having young black males “step up their game” has to mean far more than NFL, NBA, or rapper contract fantasies.
    In The Women of Brewster Place there’s a line about Mattie Michael’s demands of her son. The paraphrase is: she required so little of him that that is exactly what she received. Young people, in the main, will live up to what is expected/required of them, whether it’s cleaning their own rooms or bringing home good grades. When nothing is demanded in the home, no outside force on the planet –regardless of what label it is given– can be blamed.

    • As a 27-year-old Black Male (college grad) from a educated middle class family you’re aforementioned comments are spot on & I could not agree more. This boils down to DISCIPLINE. Within the Black American community we do not stress discipline, finishing what you start or personal advancement such as our Asian-American & African contemporaries. Aside from the realities of institutionalized white supremacy. This is why Black Americans continue to fall behind where it matters. Especially among the middle class where we get comfortable too quickly & reports continue to show that the Black students from middle class families with access to academic resources still fall behind our peers & this is very true. I’ve seen it & explain it to people in conversation all of the time. I know more 1st generation Blacks than 2nd or 3rd generation who push through.

  2. Apropos the poll, and this option:
    Small stipends to cover living expenses and spending money should be permitted for student athletes.
    Question: Should not student musicians receive a “small stipend to cover living expenses”, as well. ALL students have a need/desire for a little walking around money. Student athletes who don’t get into trouble, and are not NBA/NFL material get the easiest walk on the campus, receiving more academic support, tutoring re-takes than any pre-med major. PUHLEEZE, people! Can’t we get a sense of proportion and priorities around these men and women entertainers who have been pampered and had exceptions and excuses made for them since they were 12?

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