Journal Article: The Growing Female Advantage in College Completion: The Role of Family Background and Academic Achievement


Academic Achievement, Family Background, Human Sex Differences, Undergraduate Education, Human Females


Buchmann, Claudia; DiPrete, Thomas A.


2006, Aug


In a few short decades, the gender gap in college completion has reversed from favoring men to favoring women. This study, which is the first to assess broadly the causes of the growing female advantage in college completion, considers the impact of family resources as well as gender differences in academic performance and in the pathways to college completion on the rising gender gap. Analyses of General Social Survey data indicate that the female-favorable trend in college completion emerged unevenly by family status of origin to the disadvantage of sons in families with a low-educated or absent father. Additional analyses of National Educational Longitudinal Survey (NELS) data indicate that women's superior academic performance plays a large role in producing the gender gap in college completion, but that this effect remains latent until after the transition to college. For NELS cohorts, who were born in the mid-1970s, the female advantage in college completion remains largest in families with a low-educated or absent father, but currently extends to all family types. In conjunction with women s growing incentives to attain higher education, gender differences in resources related to family background and academic performance largely explain the growing female advantage in college completion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA ) (journal abstract)


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