College & Workforce Readiness Opinion

Gender Bender: The AAUW’s New Report on Gender Equity

By Eduwonkette — May 20, 2008 1 min read
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The American Association of University Women released a 124 page report this morning debunking the myth of a “boy crisis” in education. Lots of long-term NAEP and ACT/SAT trend data to mull over.

The real trend story, though, is not about test scores, but about how girls have overtaken boys in college completion. 65% of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded to men in 1960; by 2005, women received 58% of all bachelor’s degrees. Gender disparities are even greater among some minority groups, with women earning 66% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-Americans, 61% of those awarded to Hispanics, 60% of those awarded to Native-Americans, versus 57% of those awarded to whites.

Beyond the impact of the women’s movement, my money is on girls’ advantage in non-cognitive skills (i.e. motivation, sticktoitiveness, engagement) which may have grown over time, or alternatively there may be increasing returns to non-cognitive skills in finishing college. No evidence for this assertion - just a hunch. Feel free to offer other interpretations of the graph below, which shows trends in BA attainment by race and gender from 1971-2006.

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