Tracking the Gender Gap in Enrollments at HBCUs

In 1950, U..S. Department of Education data shows that the number of men enrolled in higher education was double the number of women. In 1979, the number of women enrolled in higher education surpassed the number of men for the first time. Women have had an edge ever since. In 2020, women made up just over 58 percent of total enrollments.

At the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, women were 53 percent of all students as early as 1976. A decade later, women were 56.6 percent of all enrollments at HBCUs. By the turn of the century in 2000, women made up 60.8 percent of all enrollments.

For the fall of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted enrollments in higher education, women were 64.3 percent of all students at HBCUs, compared to 62.7 percent in 2019, the year before the pandemic took hold.

Readers will recall that some HBCUs have made concerted efforts to attract Hispanic, foreign, and in some cases White students. A few HBCUs now have a student body that is majority White.

If we look only at Black student enrollments at HBCUs, we see that in 1976, Black women made up 55.6 percent of all African Americans enrollments in 1976, 58.4 percent in 1986, 61.4 percent in 2000, and 65.7 percent in 2020.

The U.S. Department of Education data on HBCU enrollments may be found here.

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