Lower Retention Rates for Men Are a Significant Contributing Factor to the Higher Education Gender Gap

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in October 2020, there were 7,577,000 men enrolled in U.S. higher Eduction. At that time there were 10,097,000 women enrolled in higher education. Thus, women were 57 percent of all enrollments.

But breaking down the data by year of enrollment, we find that part of the gender gap in college enrollments is that men are less likely to persist. There were 1,816,000 men who were enrolled as first-year students compared to 2,244,000 women. So women were 55 percent of all students entering college in the fall of 2020. In October 2020, there were 1,058,000 men enrolled in the fourth year of higher education compared to 1,467,000 women. Thus, women were 58 percent of all students in their fourth year of college.

So t seems clear that efforts to reduce the gender gap in college enrollments must not only address initial access but must focus on retention efforts for male students.

The data also showed that there were 549,000 men enrolled in their first year of graduate studies compared to 867,000 women. Thus, women were 61.2 percent of all first-year students in graduate school. In October 2020, women made up 60.5 percent of all students who were in their second year of graduate school or more.


Filed Under: EnrollmentsResearch/Study

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