Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
PEDAR: Executive Summary  Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time
Introduction
Trends in Postsecondary Enrollment and Degree Awards
Changes in Undergraduate Student Profiles and Enrollment Characteristics
Preparation, Persistence, and Progress Through Undergraduate Education
High School Academic Preparation and Subsequent Attainment
Postsecondary Persistence and Degree Completion
Early Labor Market Outcomes Among Bachelor's Degree Recipients
Conclusions
Research Methodology
References
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
 Preparation, Persistence, and Progress Through Undergraduate Education - High School Academic Preparation and Subsequent Attainment

A comparison of 1982 and 1992 high school graduates who entered postsecondary education by the end of their second year out of high school revealed a shift in the high school academic preparation of men and women.2 Between the two cohorts, women closed some existing gender gaps in academic preparation and, in some cases, even surpassed men. For example, the percentage of men who fell in the highest 20 percent on an indicator measuring the academic intensity of high school courses taken decreased from 33 percent to 26 percent, while the percentage of women at the same level increased from 25 percent to 29 percent and, effectively, closed the gender gap (table A).3 That is, among 1982 high school graduates who went on to college, men were more likely than women to score at the highest academic intensity level, but no gender difference was evident among their 1992 counterparts.

Similar patterns were observed for other indicators of high school academic preparation. Among 1992 high school graduates, both young men and women who went on to postsecondary education were more likely to take an advanced mathematics course in high school (including calculus and precalculus) and have a 3.50 or higher grade point average (GPA) in high school than their 1982 counterparts (tables 8 and 9). Nonetheless, women closed the existing gender gap in the highest mathematics course taken (14 percent of men and 13 percent of women had taken calculus), and in both cohorts, women were more likely to have a 3.5 or higher GPA than their male peers (e.g., in 1992, 21 percent of women vs. 15 percent of men had GPAs of 3.5 or higher).

Between 41 and 50 percent of male and female 1982 and 1992 high school graduates who went on to postsecondary education by the end of their second year out of high school had earned a bachelor's degree or higher, and 33-40 percent had not attained more than a high school diploma (figure C and table 11).4 For both cohorts, 45 percent of men had attained a bachelor's degree or higher. For women, there was an increase between the 1982 and 1992 cohorts in the percentage earning a bachelor's degree or higher (41 vs. 50 percent). As a result, among those 1992 high school graduates who had entered postsecondary education by December 1994, women were more likely than men to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher (50 vs. 45 percent), and men were more likely to have earned no more than a high school diploma (40 vs. 33 percent).

These relationships held even among students who fell in the highest 20 percent on the academic intensity indicator (i.e., students who are expected to go on to college and to have been academically prepared to succeed once there). So, in addition to women improving their academic preparation with respect to men, even among students who were better prepared academically in high school and had entered college, women were more likely than men to attain a bachelor's degree.

 


next section

Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.
National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education