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College Gender Gap Narrows . . . Except for Hispanics

Hispanic Business, News Report, Rob Kuznia Posted: Jan 28, 2010

The perplexing college gender gap in which 57 percent of all U.S. undergraduates are women has, for the first time in years, failed to grow even wider, with one exception: Hispanic men continue to lose ground on Hispanic women, according to a new study.

The study, released today by a higher-ed organization called the American Council on Education, shows that the overall gap has held steady since 2003. However, among Hispanics, it has grown even wider.

The male share of Hispanic undergraduates age 24 or lower fell from 45 percent in 1999-2000 to 42 percent in 2007-08. Meanwhile, just 9 percent of all Hispanic young men have earned a bachelor degree, the lowest of any group in the study. About 14 percent of all Hispanic women surveyed had obtained a bachelor's degree.

"Raising the attainment rate of Hispanic men and women looms as one of the most significant challenges facing American education," said report author Jacqueline King, assistant vice president of ACE's Center for Policy Analysis, in a statement. "In order for the attainment rate of Hispanic young men to rise, degree production will have to outpace population growth or immigration will have to slow."

The gender disparity of all races on college campuses dates back to the late 1970s, sometime after the onset of the women's rights movement, researchers say. Over time, it grew and grew.

By 1990, 55 percent of all college students were female. By 2003, the figure had grown to 57 percent, with males making up just 43 percent of the nation's college student population. Today, those figures remain.

Among Hispanics, another wide gulf separates immigrants from those born in the United States. The study found that just 51 percent of all adult Hispanic immigrants have a high school degree, compared with 81 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics. Here, too, males lag, with less than half having completed high school, and just 6 percent having earned a bachelor's degree.

Although the gender gap among Hispanics is the only one that has continued to grow in recent years, African Americans still exhibit the widest gender gap.

Sixty-three percent of all African American undergraduates are women; 37 percent are men.

Related Articles:

School Matters: California Must Raise Latino Student Achievement

Living the Education Gap as a San Jose Teacher

SCHOOL MATTERS: Some Latino Students Choose Family Over College

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