Growing gender gap in education among African Americans


 Dr. Claudia Buchmann, Department of Sociology
Rank at time of award: Associate Professor


The primary goal of the research is to ascertain the roles of family factors and school-based factors in explaining the large female advantage in educational attainment among African Americans. We will address some combination of the following questions:
1)  Does the educational attainment of black males and black females vary by family structure? For example are males more disadvantaged in their educational attainment relative to females if they grew up in households with no father present?   Are the gender specific impacts of different family forms different for blacks than for whites?
2)  Are trends in the distribution of African-American family types and changes in the structure of African-American families related to the growing female-favorable gap in educational attainment over the same period?
3)  How  are the academic  pathways  (including  factors  like academic performance,  grade  retention,  high school  dropout) that lead to or interfere with high educational  attainment  different for black males and black females?
4) Does the educational performance and attainment of black males and black females vary according to school-based factors?   For example, are black males more disadvantaged in their academic performance relative to black females if they are taught by teachers of a different race or gender?  Are they more disadvantaged relative to females if they attend highly segregated schools?  Are the gender specific impacts of different school factors different for blacks and whites?

Ending Synopsis

It is often asserted that the gender gap in educational attainment is larger for blacks than whites, but historical trends comparing the black and white gender gap have received surprisingly little attention. Analysis of historical data from the U.S. census IPUMS samples shows that the gender gap in college completion has evolved differently for whites and blacks. Historically, the female advantage in educational attainment among blacks is linked to more favorable labor market opportunities and stronger incentives for employment for educated black women. Blacks, particularly black males, still lag far behind whites in their rates of college completion, but the striking educational gains of white women have caused the racial patterns of gender differences in college completion rates to grow more similar over time. While some have linked the disadvantaged position of black males to their high risk of incarceration, our estimates suggest that incarceration has a relatively small impact on the black gender gap and the racial gap in college completion rates for males in the United States.


Publications resulting from this seed grant

Anne McDaniel, Thomas A. DiPrete, Claudia Buchmann and Uri Shwed. 2011. The Black Gender Gap in Educational Attainment: Historical Trends and Racial Comparisons. Demography 48:889-914. (Awarded the 2011 IPUMS Research Award for best published work using IPUMS data).


Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann. 2013. The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools.  NY: Russell Sage Foundation. Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Outstanding Book Award for 2015. Winner of the Otis Dudley Duncan Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Social Demography, 2015.

Claudia Buchmann, Thomas A. DiPrete and Anne McDaniel. 2013. "Gender and Education." In Tracking, Curriculum, Gender and Stratification in Education, a Festschrift in honor of Hanna Ayalon. Rinat Elyashiv-Arbiv and Yariv Feniger, editors. In Hebrew.

Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann. 2014. “Gender Disparities in Educational Attainment in the New Century: Trends, Causes and Consequences.” Pp. 375-414 in Diversity & Disparities: America Enters a New Century, edited by John Logan. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.