Women in Higher Education - Women in Higher EducationWomen in Higher Education - Women in Higher Education

Gender Gap Widens Among Students Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2006

Women in Higher Education
November 2006
p. 44

Women still consider education a good investment in their future, judging by their clear majority among undergraduates, graduate students, professional school students and those of non-traditional age.

Most of the gender gap is due to a large increase in low-income and Hispanic women, resulting in a rise in traditional-age women students from 52% in 1995-1996 to 55% in 2003.

The recent study Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2006 conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) is a follow-up to the 2000 study, with a short report in 2003.

While the number of men has also increased, it has not kept up with women’s pace. “Women are making gains in college participation and degree attainment, but their gains have not come at the expense of men,” explained Jacque-line E. King, author of the study conducted by the ACE Center for Policy Analysis. Overall women are now 57% of all college students.

She cautioned that while the gender gap is important, it should not obscure larger disparities that correlate with race and income among students of both genders. King also warned that education is not a zero-sum gain, in which women’s gains come at the expense of men.


Since the 1990s, women have outpaced men in earning bachelor’s degrees across all racial groups.

Among whites, the gender gap has increased because more women are earning bachelor’s degrees while the num-ber of men doing so has remained the same.

Among women of color, their share of bachelor’s degrees has tripled from 1976 to 2003, from 5% to 15%. Minority men’s increase has been more modest over the same period, from 5% to 9%.


Women were 56% of undergrads in 1995-96 and 58% in 2003-2004. Age, ethnicity and income are also key vari-ables.

• Of the 40% of undergraduate students who are age 25 or older, women have been 60-62% since 2000.

Among whites, women have been a clear majority since 1995-1996, rising from 51% that year to 54% in 2003-2004. Low-income male students have decreased from 48% to 44% in that period.

Among Hispanics, male students age 24 or younger have dropped from 45% to 43%, mostly due to a drop in low-income students who are male.

Among African American males, the percentage grew from 37% in 1995-1996 to 40% in 2003-2004, but this racial group still had the largest gender disparity.

Among Asians, females were in the minority in 1995-1996, but they are now equal with males.


Women now make up 58% of graduate students. Although women are the minority in MBA, non-education doctorates and law and masters of science programs, they are the majority in medicine at 51% and health science professional programs at 53%.

Copies of the report Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2006

cost $20 plus $6.95 S/H from the ACE Web site:


Subscribe to the only national monthly publication to support women on campus, a 24-40 page news journal designed to enlighten, encourage, empower, and enrage women in higher education
Women in Higher Education
published by Jossey Bass, A Wiley Brand
Phone: 888.378.2537 Fax: 888.481.26651 Email: jbsubs@wiley.com Privacy Statement

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Copyright 2002-2014 by John Wiley & Sons Inc. or related companies. All rights reserved.