School Characteristics, Family Background, and Variation in the Gender Gap in College Graduation among African Americans

Andrew Clarkwest, University of Michigan

African Americans experience large and growing gender differences in educational attainment. In this paper I examine variation in the gender gap by characteristics of schools that students attend and their family background. Qualitative work provides reason to expect gender gaps across the socioeconomic spectrum, but possibly larger ones among more disadvantaged students. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88), I find that differences in college graduation between males and female students are more sensitive to school context than to family background. The gaps tend to be larger in more segregated schools and those in urban areas. In addition, male students report relatively worse teacher treatment of students in urban areas, while the grade point averages of male students at the top of the distribution are especially low in more segregated schools. I discuss potential explanations for those patterns and implications for future research into educational gender gaps.

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Presented in Session 21: Segregation and School Outcomes