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Russell Sage Foundation
The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools

The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools

by Thomas A. DiPrete, Claudia Buchmann


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The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools

While powerful gender inequalities remain in American society, women have made substantial gains and now largely surpass men in one crucial arena: education. Women now outperform men academically at all levels of school, and are more likely to obtain college degrees and enroll in graduate school. What accounts for this enormous reversal in the gender education gap? In The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, Thomas DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann provide a detailed and accessible account of women’s educational advantage and suggest new strategies to improve schooling outcomes for both boys and girls. The Rise of Women opens with a masterful overview of the broader societal changes that accompanied the change in gender trends in higher education. The rise of egalitarian gender norms and a growing demand for college-educated workers allowed more women to enroll in colleges and universities nationwide. As this shift occurred, women quickly reversed the historical male advantage in education. By 2010, young women in their mid-twenties surpassed their male counterparts in earning college degrees by more than eight percentage points. The authors, however, reveal an important exception: While women have achieved parity in fields such as medicine and the law, they lag far behind men in engineering and physical science degrees. To explain these trends, The Rise of Women charts the performance of boys and girls over the course of their schooling. At each stage in the education process, they consider the gender-specific impact of factors such as families, schools, peers, race and class. Important differences emerge as early as kindergarten, where girls show higher levels of essential learning skills such as persistence and self-control. Girls also derive more intrinsic gratification from performing well on a day-to-day basis, a crucial advantage in the learning process. By contrast, boys must often navigate a conflict between their emerging masculine identity and a strong attachment to school. Families and peers play a crucial role at this juncture. The authors show the gender gap in educational attainment between children in the same families tends to be lower when the father is present and more highly educated. A strong academic climate, both among friends and at home, also tends to erode stereotypes that disconnect academic prowess and a healthy, masculine identity. Similarly, high schools with strong science curricula reduce the power of gender stereotypes concerning science and technology and encourage girls to major in scientific fields. As the value of a highly skilled workforce continues to grow, The Rise of Women argues that understanding the source and extent of the gender gap in higher education is essential to improving our schools and the economy. With its rigorous data and clear recommendations, this volume illuminates new ground for future education policies and research.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871540515
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Publication date: 01/01/2013
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

THOMAS A. DiPRETE is professor of sociology at Columbia University. CLAUDIA BUCHMANN is professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures vii

About the Authors xiii

Preface xv

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Part I Trends and the Macro Environment 25

Chapter 2 What Has Happened? Describing the Reversal of the Gender Gap in College Completion 27

Chapter 3 Changing Incentives and Opportunities for Higher Education 53

Part II Academic Performance, Engagement, and Family Influence 77

Chapter 4 The Gender Gap in Academic Performance 79

Chapter 5 Social and Behavioral Skills and School-Related Attitudes 101

Chapter 6 The Family and the Gender Gap 116

Part III The Role of Schools 155

Chapter 7 Schools, Classrooms, and Peers 157

Chapter 8 Gender, College Major, and Postgraduate Education 180

Chapter 9 Enhancing Educational Attainment 200

Appendix A: Figures and Tables 213

Notes 225

References 239

Index 271

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