The Large and Growing Gender Gap in African-American Degree Attainments

As reported recently in JBHE, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 4.6 million African Americans hold at least a four-year college degree. But there are vast differences in degree attainments between black women and black men.

In 2009 there were 1,864,000 black women who had obtained a bachelor’s degree but no higher degree. For black men the figure was 1,247,000. There were 741,000 black women who held a master’s degree compared to 473,000 black men.

In the past, black men held large leads over black women in professional and doctoral degrees. But now nearly equal numbers of black women and black men hold professional degrees. And if we look at professional degree holders in the 25 to 34 age group only, we find that twice as many black women as black men have professional degrees.

In 2009, 66,000 black women held doctoral degrees. For black men the figure is 61,000. This is the first year in the Census Bureau’s annual compilation of data on educational attainment where the number of black women with doctorates was more than the number of black men with doctorates.