Educational Expectations and the Gender Gap in Postsecondary Enrollment
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Women are more likely to attend college than men. Roughly 55% of incoming freshmen are now women (Freeman, 2004). Women also have higher educational expectations than men and expectations are highly related to enrollment (Turley, Santos, & Ceja, 2007; Akerhielm, Berger, Hooker, & Wise, 1998). Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS:2002), this study seeks to understand the effect of expectations on the current gender gap in postsecondary enrollment. Results suggest that before adjusting for non-cognitive skills and expectations, women are roughly twice as likely to attend college than men. After controlling for non-cognitive skills, educational expectations explain 10.2% of the female advantage in college enrollment. Net non-cognitive skills and expectations, women were only 1.5 times more likely to attend college than men. This indicates that at least part of the reason women attend college in greater numbers than men is due to the fact that women have higher educational expectations.