According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, for the first time women have surpassed men in obtaining both bachelor's and advanced degrees. It was suggested that a combination of factors including women's increased enrollment in colleges in the 1980s and a steady decline in stay-at-home mothers has contributed to the current demographics of higher education. Specifically, among women 25 and older, 10.6 million women have a master's degree or higher compared to 10.5 million men. Women do still lag behind men in business, science and engineering degrees. In terms of undergraduate degrees however, 20.1 million women have a bachelor's degree compared to 18.7 million men; women first surpassed men in this area in 1996.
When one looks specifically at African Americans, the gap between men and women is much more striking. While 56% of African American females nationally graduate from high school, only 42% of their male counterparts graduate. In some states, only 29% of African American males receive a high school diploma. Due to this gender gap in high school graduation rates, women receive advanced degrees at high rates than men. African American women receive 63% of bachelor's degrees, 67% of master's and 60% of doctoral degrees received by African Americans.
-Hispanic women are 1.5 times more likely to receive an associate's, bachelor's and master's degree than a Hispanic male.
-In 1977-78, Asian men were 1.1 times more likely to receive a bachelor's degree than an Asian female. By 1999-2000, Asian women were 1.2 times more likely to receive a bachelor's.
-In 1977-78, 101 white women received master's per 100 white men. By 1999-2000, 151 white women per 100 white men receive master's
-The number of African American women receiving associate's degrees has increased dramatically; Per 100 African American men, it was 142 women in the 1970s, 169 in the 1980s and 188 in the late 1990s
The gender gap in educational attainment has led to a number of books about a potential crisis facing males in schools. Some of these books include The Trouble with Boys... by Peg Tyre and Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Growing the Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax. While the 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of feminism and women's rights, the tide has turned to helping boys succeed given the current statistics. The current economic climate requires at least a high school degree, but more likely a college degree in to obtain a job so it is paramount that the reasons that males become disengaged with the academic environment are pinpointed and specifically targeted.