The Gender Gap in African American Degree Attainments

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2011, 18 percent of Black men over the age of 25 had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree. For Black women over the age of 25, 21.4 percent were college educated.

A generation or two ago, the gender gap in African American degree attainments heavily favored men. This large advantage for older Black men has a residual effect for the overall figures today.  However, the gender gap in degree attainments for younger African Americans is far more pronounced. If we look at degree attainments for African Americans ages 25 to 29, we find that 16.1 percent of Black men hold at least a four-year college degree. For Black women ages 25 to 29, 22.9 percent are college educated.

Some 56,000 young Black women aged 25 to 29 hold master’s degrees compared to only 23,000 young Black men.


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  1. cochise Pearson says:

    Unfortunately, I am not surprised to see Black women out pacing Black men in attainment of college degrees. As a former Masters candidate at the Uiversity of Massachusetts, I was the only Black male among my colleagues. I just also attended a seminar on a doctoral program and was the only Black male representative.

    What’s happening is that we have many of our young Black males moving in a different direction. They grow up idolizing hip hop stars and sports figures. As a result, the objective is to emulate these entertainers instead of focusing on having a back up plan. I have nothing against Black entertainers, but young Black men need to understand the importance of having savvy options compared to having just one goal of hitting the lottery: A successful entertainer commanding a 7 figure salary.

    I commend our Black women for being driven, motivated, and inspired to elevate themselves academically. However, if the issue of Black men remaining cavalier with achieving a higher education beyond high school is not addressed, more Black women will cross the racial line to find a suitable mate. Do you blame them?

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