The “achievement gap” typically refers to the disparities in high school completion between white and non-white students. In the Los Angeles Times, though, Columbia’s Thomas A. DiPrete and Ohio State’s Claudia Buchmann write about another educational achievement gap—the growing gulf between women and men in post-secondary education.
DiPrete and Buchmann’s research shows that women earn 58% of bachelor’s degrees and 62% of postsecondary occupational certificates. Men are less likely to enroll in colleges and universities, and those who do enroll are less likely than their female counterparts to obtain degrees or certificates.
The authors identify a number of reasons for men lagging behind, including a view of educational achievement as “unmasculine,” poorer grades in middle and high school, and prioritizing work in the short-term over education in the long-term.
More broadly, young men seem to have trouble navigating educational institutions. DiPrete and Buchmann write:
[Boys and young men] want better jobs than their fathers have, but their attitudes toward school and work are misaligned with the opportunities and requirements in today’s labor market. Many boys seem to think they will be successful—career-wise and financially—without having any idea about how they’ll achieve that success.
The authors mention the German model—tight linkages between companies and schools that lead to 350 specific occupational certificates—as a system that better aligns hopes, expectations, and realities, concluding:
Clearer pathways from courses to credentials and from credentials to careers would further enhance the rates of success for men as well as women and make for a more competitive America.