Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X
There were 4,891,888 postsecondary degrees conferred in the United States in academic year 2015-16.
By gender, this breaks down to 2,036, 307 for males and 2,855,581 for females. That is a 42% to 58% ratio of male to females, which has been part of an increasing trend over the years. Drilling down by ethnicity, of the total awards, African Americans accounted for 570,354, which is more or less proportionate to the black population in the US. (It is 11.6% in comparison to population of 12.3%). But it is when that number of African Americans is broken down by gender that things get really interesting. And by interesting, we mean of the sort that should get social scientists to ask what it means and what its long-term ramifications are.
|Level of award and gender||Number of Awards||Percentage of Awards by Level|
|Less Than 1 Year|
|At least 1 but less than 2|
|At least 2 but less than 4|
|Doctor's degrees (research/scholarship)|
|Doctor's degrees (professional practice)|
|Doctor's degrees (other)|
To be sure, this data, which is compiled by the US Department of Education*, specifically defines the schools it’s compiled from as “Title IV” schools; that is, schools where students are eligible for financial aid (grants and government loans) and does not (presumably) include data from post-secondary schools which do not participate in Title IV. Moreover, the gender gap is not unique to African Americans: it occurs across every ethnic group: whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc. But that is small consolation. What this shows this is that, with the exception of one education level– at least 2 years but less than 4 years– African American males lag behind their female counterparts, in some cases significantly. This is most pronounced in graduate degrees, as the table above shows. Something for our social scientists, parents, educators to consider because, by 2020, 65% of jobs will require at least an associate’s degree, and 35% will require a bachelor’s degree.
*Source: US Department of Education