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PEDAR: Executive Summary  Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time
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
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

Over the past two decades, the rates at which women have enrolled in undergraduate education and attained college degrees increased faster than those of men. Part of this increase may be related to an increase in the percentage of traditional students who were women. However, women are still overrepresented among nontraditional students such as adult students with families, students in the lowest income level, and students age 40 or older.

When looking at changes in high school academic preparation among 1982 and 1992 high school graduates who entered postsecondary education within 2 years of high school completion, women had closed some existing gender gaps and, in some cases, surpassed men over the 10-year period. Also, in the later cohort, among students who had higher levels of high school academic preparation, women were more likely than men to earn a bachelor's degree—a difference not found in the earlier cohort. In other words, women not only narrowed the gender gap in high school academic preparation, but even among those best prepared to enter college, women were more likely than men to attain a bachelor's degree.

Even though women have surpassed men in some aspects of academic preparation and college persistence and attainment, as of 2001, their full-time earnings were lower than those of men. Even when controlling for undergraduate field of study, men earned higher salaries than women in several fields—including the combined field of mathematics, science, and engineering, as well as the field comprising humanities, and social and behavioral sciences—indicating that some of the gains women made in postsecondary education may not be realized off campus.


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