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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