Survey Shows Women Value College More Than Men

August 18, 2011

Two female college graduatesWomen, who have been surpassing men in college enrollment and completion, have a more positive view about the value of higher education.

According to a Pew Research Center survey of 2,142 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, half of all female college graduates gave the country's higher education system excellent or good marks when asked about the value it provides given the cost. Men, on the other hand, were less likely to give such feedback--just 37 percent of male graduates gave U.S. higher education good marks. Furthermore, women were more likely than men to say that college helped them grow intellectually (81 percent of women versus 67 percent of men) and personally (73 percent versus 64 percent).

The Washington Post reported that while most respondents said a college education was useful, 77 percent said it was more central to a woman's success, while 68 percent said that about men.

The public had mixed feelings about the gender gap in education. A majority of respondents said it was a good thing that more women than men are completing college. However, when the same question was rephrased, respondents said that it was a bad thing that fewer men than women are graduating from college.

"The public has mixed views about this," said Kimberly C. Parker, associate director of the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project and a co-author of a report on the survey, to The Chronicle of Higher Education. "They're supportive of all the accomplishments of women in this regard, but they don't want to see that success come at the expense of men."

Race and ethnicity seemed to play a part in these attitudes. With the greatest divide between women and men in higher education, less than half of African American respondents viewed higher enrollment and completion rates for women favorably. Fifty four percent of whites, on the other hand, said it was a good thing; as did 59 percent of Hispanics.

When asked about the rising cost of college education, women seemed to be more concerned than men. Just 14 percent of female college grads said that most people could afford a college education, compared to 26 percent of their male counterparts. Interestingly, however, 40 percent of female grads reported that their parents covered the cost of their education, while just 29 percent of men said the same.

The survey was conducted March 15-29, 2011 via landline telephone and cellular phone.

Compiled by Staff


"Women enjoy college more than men, survey says,", August 18, 2011 Daniel de Vise

"Women See Value and Benefits of College; Men Lag on Both Fronts, Survey Finds,", August 17, 2011

"Women Value Higher Education More Highly Than Men Do, Survey Finds,", August 17, 2011, Rachel Wiseman

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