Why the gap between men and women who finish college is growing

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University graduates sit at a graduation ceremony.
(Chuck Savage/Getty Images)

The growing gender gap in higher education, both in enrollment and graduation rates, has been a topic of conversation and debate In recent months. Today, young women are more likely to enroll in college than young men, and among people age 25 and older, women are more likely than men to have a four-year college degree. The college completion gap is even larger among younger adults ages 25-34.

A line graph showing that women in the US are outperforming men in college graduation

Women’s educational achievements have occurred along with their increasing labor force participation as much as structural changes in the economy. The implications of the widening gap in educational attainment for men are significant, as research has shown the strong correlation between college completion and lifetime earnings Y accumulation of wealth.

To explore factors contributing to the widening gender gap in college completion, we surveyed 9,676 US adults between October 18 and 24, 2021. All who participated are members of Pew’s American Trends Panel (ATP). Research Center, an online survey panel. which is recruited through a national random sampling of residential addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and other categories. Read more about him ATP methodology.

Data on college completion rates come from an analysis by the Center for the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (IPUMS). The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic affected data collection for the 2020 ASEC. The response rate for the March 2020 survey was about 10 percentage points less than in the previous months. Using administrative data, Census Bureau researchers have shown that non-responding households were less similar to those surveyed than in previous years. They also generated entropy balances to account for this non-random non-response. The 2020 ASEC figures presented used these supplemental weights.

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Are here the questions used for this report, along with the responses, and his methodology.

The majority (62%) of American adults age 25 and older do not have a four-year college degree, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. But the reasons for not completing a four-year degree differ for men and women, according to a new Center survey of adults without such a degree and not currently enrolled in college.

A graph showing that around a third of men who haven't completed four years of college say they 'just didn't want' to get a degree

Financial considerations are a key reason many do not attend or complete college. Among adults who do not have a bachelor’s degree and are not currently enrolled in school, about four in ten (42%) say that one of the main reasons they have not received a four-year college degree is that they cannot afford University. . About 36% say that the need to work to help support their family was one of the main reasons they did not earn their degree.

Overall, about three in 10 adults who didn’t complete four years of college (29%) say one of the main reasons for this is that they just didn’t want to, 23% say they didn’t need more education for the job or career they wanted, and 20% say they just didn’t consider getting a four-year degree. Relatively few (13%) adults without a bachelor’s degree say that one of the main reasons they did not pursue this level of education was that they did not think they would get into a four-year university.

Men are more likely than women to point to factors that have more to do with personal choice. Approximately one-third (34%) of men without a bachelor’s degree say that one of the main reasons they didn’t complete college is that they just didn’t want to. Only one in four women says the same. Men without a college education are also more likely than their female counterparts to say that one of the main reasons they don’t have a four-year degree is that they didn’t need more education for the job or career they wanted (26% of men). men say this versus 20% of women).

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Women (44%) are more likely than men (39%) to say that not being able to afford college is one of the top reasons they don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Men and women are equally likely to say that the need to work to help support their family was a significant impediment.

The proportions of men and women who say they did not consider going to college or did not think they would enter a four-year school are not significantly different.

The reasons people give for not finishing college also differ across racial and ethnic groups. Among those without a bachelor’s degree, Hispanic adults (52%) are more likely than whites (39%) or blacks (41%) to say that one of the main reasons they did not graduate from a four-year college years is that he could not afford it. Black and Hispanic adults without a four-year degree are more likely than their white counterparts to say that the need to work to support their family was a top reason. There are not enough Asian adults without a bachelor’s degree in the sample to analyze this group separately.

While one-third of white adults without a four-year degree say not wanting to go to school was one of the main reasons they did not complete a four-year degree, smaller proportions of black adults (22%) e Hispanics (23%) say the same. White adults are also more likely to say that they don’t need further education for the job or career they want is one of the top reasons they don’t have a bachelor’s degree.

In some cases, gender differences in the reasons for not completing college are more pronounced among white adults than among black or Hispanic adults. About four in 10 white men who did not complete four years of college (39%) say that one of the main reasons for this is that they simply did not want to. This compares to 27% of untitled white women. Opinions on this do not differ significantly by gender for black or Hispanic adults.

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Similarly, while three in 10 white men without a college degree say that one of the main reasons they did not complete college is that they did not need further education for the job or career they wanted, only 24% of white women say the same. . Among black and Hispanic non-college graduates, roughly equal proportions of men and women say this was one of the main reasons.

Among college graduates, men and women have similar views on the value of their degree.

Looking at those who have graduated from college, men and women are equally likely to see value in the experience. Overall, 49% of four-year college graduates say their college education was extremely useful in terms of helping them grow personally and intellectually. Approximately equal proportions of men (47%) and women (50%) express this opinion.

About 44% of college graduates, including 45% of men and 43% of women, say their college education was extremely helpful in opening doors to job opportunities. A somewhat smaller proportion of graduates (38%) say that university was extremely helpful in helping them develop specific skills and knowledge that could be used in the workplace (38% of men and 40% of women say this).

There are age differences in each of these elements, as younger college graduates are less likely than older ones to see the value of their college education. For example, only a third of college graduates under 50, compared to 45% of those over 50, say their college experience was extremely useful in helping them develop skills and knowledge that could be used in the workplace. worked.

Note: Here they are the questions used for this report, along with the responses, and his methodology.

Why the gap between men and women who finish college is growing Kim Parker
kim parker is director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center.

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