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PEDAR: Executive Summary Competing Choices: Men's and Women's  Paths After Earning a Bachelor's Degree
Gender Differences
Characteristics at Bachelor's Degree Receipt
Experiences After Graduation
Age, Major, and Grade-Point Average
Interrelationships Among Transitions
Graduate School Enrollment and Attainment
Effects of Marriage and Parenthood on Graduate Enrollment After Controlling for Other Variables
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

During the last 30 years, women have made great strides in educational attainment, particularly in participating in postsecondary education, where they not only enroll and attain at higher rates than men but also do better academically and have higher educational expectations, on average (U.S. Department of Education 2000; Berkner, McCormick, and Cuccaro-Alamin 1996; NPSAS:93 Data Analysis System; McCormick et al. 1999). However, the superior performance of women at the undergraduate level has not translated into greater enrollment than males at the graduate level or enrollment rates equal to males in all types of graduate programs (McCormick et al. 1999).

At the same time that young adults are making decisions about graduate study and employment after earning their bachelor’s degree, many are also facing choices about marriage and parenthood. These latter life transitions may play a greater role in women’s decisions about schooling and employment at this juncture because women generally marry and have children at younger ages than do men. Thus, choices about getting married and having children may compete with choices about employment and graduate study more for women than for men. This report aims to provide a context for understanding the paths that women and men take toward graduate degrees, employment, marriage, and parenthood during the first 4 years after earning their bachelor’s degree. In particular, the analysis seeks to identify how these behaviors are interrelated.

This analysis draws upon data from the 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:1993/1997), which identified students who received their bachelor’s degree during academic year 1992–93. The analysis also used follow-up surveys conducted in 1994 and 1997 to trace changes in employment and graduate enrollment, along with changes in marital status and entry into parenthood. In order to obtain complete information about graduates’ paths 4 years after degree receipt, this analysis was limited to graduates who responded to the second follow-up survey in 1997. The findings of the report are summarized below.

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