The Gender Gap in College

July 11, 2006

This New York Times story isn’t a regurgitation of the “boy crisis.” It’s actually a well- researched and colorful article on the disparity between male and female achievement in colleges and what happens after graduation. (Despite slacking off in school, the men go on to make more money.)

But there are more women than men attending universities today, although a disproportionate number of men are enrolled in the math and sciences. More women are enrolled in honors programs and spend more time studying than men.

Still, the gap is greatest in minority communities. The story on the African-American Thompson sisters at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro hit too close to home for me. There are seven siblings in the Thompson household: The four sisters went to college, but none of their three brothers did. In my own Latino home — I am the oldest of four kids — my two sisters and I attended college. But our only brother, who is now 23-years-old and works at FedEx, has expressed zero interest in even taking a college course.

But he has done a good job of saving — although he has no health benefits — and paying his bills on time. There’s some truth to Latino and African American men being told they need to get jobs rather than study:

At Greensboro, where more than two-thirds of the students are female, and about one in five is black, many young men say they are torn between wanting quick money and seeking the long-term rewards of education.

“A lot of my friends made good money working in high school, in construction or as electricians, and they didn’t go to college, but they’re doing very well now,” said Mr. Daniels, the Greensboro student, who works 25 to 30 hours a week. “One of my best friends, he’s making $70,000, he’s got his own truck and health benefits. The honest truth is, I feel weird being a college student and having no money.”

Of course, not everyone can get a $70,000 a year job in construction. Daniels better hit the books.

Feel free to discuss, if you aren’t already sick of this topic. 🙂