College & Workforce Readiness

Survey: Women See More Value in College Than Men Do

By Caralee J. Adams — August 18, 2011 2 min read
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Women are not only enrolling and completing college in greater numbers than men, they also have a more positive view of the value of their experience, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center released yesterday.

When asked about the job the higher education system is doing in providing value for the money spent by students and families, 50 percent of women who have graduated from a four-year college gave the system excellent or good marks compared with 37 percent of male graduates.

Interestingly, while there is a strong feeling among the majority of Americans that a college education is necessary to get ahead in life, the survey found that the public feels this is a more important credential for women (77 percent) than for men (68 percent), the survey shows.

These attitudes are reflected in what’s happening on campuses. In 2010, a new high of 36 percent of women ages 25-29 had a bachelor’s degree compared with 28 percent of men in the same age group. Americans say the fact that more women than men are graduating from college is a good thing (52 percent), rather than a bad thing (7 percent), for society.

Within racial and ethnic groups, young women are more likely than young men to be college-educated. The gap is largest within the black community, where 63 percent of college-educated young adults are women and only 37 percent are men.

As for the benefit of their college education, 81 percent of college-educated women felt that college was “very useful” in increasing their knowledge and helping them grow intellectually vs. 67 percent of men. Women were also more apt to acknowledge that the experience helped them grow and mature as a person (73 percent vs. 64 percent for men).

There was common ground when it came to feeling that college is no longer affordable for most people, among both men and women responding to the survey. However, women were somewhat more concerned about the affordability. Yet nearly 40 percent of women who graduated from college reported that their parents financed their education, compared with 29 percent of men.

The Pew phone survey of 2,142 adults ages 18-34 included 757 respondents with a four-year college degree or higher education and was conducted in March. Half the respondents were reached on cell phones; half on land lines. Margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points on the total sample and 4.6 percentage points for college graduates.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.