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Dr. Claudia Buchmann, Ohio State University – Higher Education Gender Gap

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Claudia Buchmann of Ohio State University explains the growing gender gap that exists on college campuses.

Claudia Buchmann is a professor of sociology at Ohio State University where her research is focused on social stratification, education, gender, race, and ethnicity. Her recent research has the goal of figuring out why women have come to be the majority of college degree holders in both the U.S. and other industrialized countries. Her work has appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals and she recently published The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools. She holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University.

About Dr. Buchmann

Dr. Claudia Buchmann – Higher Education Gender Gap

Not that long ago, men got more college degrees than women.  But the number of women with degrees skyrocketed in recent decades. Today, women earn 57% of all BA degrees, 60 percent of all master’s degrees and more than half of all  PhDs. Women’s rise in education is one factor behind the declining gender wage gap, which narrowed from 62 cents to the dollar the 1970s to 82 cents today.

In fact, girls have long gotten better grades in school than boys. But women used to have choose between getting an education and having a family and most Americans believed that a women’s place was in the home. These norms began to erode in the 1960s as the women’s movement promoted more equal opportunity for women.

Boys also used take more college prep classes than girls. but today girls have the advantage: 43 percent of girls complete Algebra 2 and Chemistry in high school; only 38 percent of boys do. And girls get higher grades than boys in these advanced courses.

Why do boys get lower grades than girls? It is not because girls are smarter But girls are more engaged and put more effort into their school work.  Their greater effort translates into a better chance of enrolling in college AND staying college to get the degree. Boys who haven’t put in the effort and practice during middle and high school are not prepared for success in college so they are less likely to enroll and more likely to dropout.

Our research finds that boys DO compete for high grades in schools where academic effort is expected and valued.  And students, especially boys, perform better when they understand how their future success in college and work is directly linked to their efforts in school today.


Production support for the Academic Minute comes from Newman’s Own, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good for over 30 years, and from Mount Holyoke College.

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