Irrelevance of High School Performance for Reversal of the College Gender Gap

Elwood Carlson, Florida State University
Amanda Poling, Florida State University

Comparison of the National Longitudinal Survey of the high school class of 1972 and the National Education Longitudinal Survey of the high school class of 1992 captures the reversal of the gender gap in enrollment in higher education in the United States. Analysis of the interacting effects of parental educational background, high school grades and high school curricula shows that while increased education of parents explains some of the overall increase in college attendance of their children, it does not explain the reversal from a male surplus to a female surplus of college students. Observed changes in high school performance across cohorts, whether measured by grades or college preparatory curricula, do not explain either the increased college attendance or the gender gap reversal. This reversal occurred within categories of parental education and high school performance, and should not be attributed to trends in either of these features of students’ lives.

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Presented in Poster Session 4