The gender gap in higher education has leveled off for most racial/ethnic groups except Hispanics, where the gap between the number of young men and women enrolled in college is widen- ing, a new report from the American Council on Education ( http://www.acenet.edu/ ) finds.
Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2010, a follow-up report to ACE's 2000 study and 2006 update, found that the percentage of male Hispanic undergraduates age 24 or younger declined from 45 percent in 1999-2000 to 42 percent in 2007-2008. Young His- panic men also have the lowest bachelor's degree attainment level (10 percent) of any group studied, while Hispanic women are attaining a bachelor's degree at the same rate as African- American women (18 percent).
Immigration is considered a key factor in the low educational performance of Hispanics. Only 51 percent of young Hispanic adults born outside the United States have completed high school, compared with 81 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics. Male immigrants, who represent one of every three young Hispanic adults, are at a particular disadvantage, with fewer than half having completed high school and only 6 percent having earned a bachelor's degree. "In order for the attainment rate of Hispanic young men to rise, degree production will have to outpace population growth or immi- gration will have to slow," said the report's author, Jacqueline E. King, assistant vice president of ACE's Center for Policy Analysis.
The report found that men 25 and older represent 14 percent of all undergraduates and are outnumbered two-to-one by women in the same age group; that 63 percent of all African-American under- graduates are women, the largest gender gap of any racial/ethnic group; and that, for each racial/ethnic group, the gap in enroll- ment disappears as family income rises. The report also found that the share of women enrolling in graduate school continues to increase and has reached 60 percent overall, with significant variation by race/ethnicity, degree program, and field of study.
But while the gender gap in higher education is no longer widen- ing for most groups, the report's author was far from sanguine that it would be eliminated any time in the near future. "While the gender gap is important and should be addressed by educators and policy makers," said King, "these findings suggest the cur- rent female majority may be higher education's new normal."
"College Gender Gap Appears to Be Stabilizing With One Notable Exception, American Council on Education Analysis Finds." Ameri- can Council on Education Press Release 1/26/10. http://bit.ly/cn87UI
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