The Gender Gap In High School Graduation Rates Is Taking A Toll On Society

It's a troubling trend that comes with lifelong consequences. The Gender Gap In High School Graduation Rates Is Taking A Toll On Society Modern Family/ABC/Giphy

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Most of us are familiar with the pay gap between men and women as well as efforts currently underway to close it. But there’s another gender disparity that has gone largely unnoticed — with potentially devastating long-term consequences.

Dropping out

In communities across the U.S., girls are consistently more likely than boys to finish high school. And while there’s plenty of debate about whether a college degree is necessary for future success, the benefits of a high school diploma are acknowledged by pretty much everyone.

Experts don’t know for sure why this has become such a steady trend, but there are a few likely factors at play, including:

  • Boys are more likely to have their education derailed by suspensions or other forms of disciplinary action.
  • Boys are statistically less likely to seek intervention or professional help for mental health issues.
  • Boys believe they’ll be able to earn a good living even if they don’t finish high school.

While some initially gain traction in the real world without a diploma, the impact of that decision might not be fully realized for many years to come.

Imperfect data

It’s impossible to tell precisely how much less likely boys are to graduate than girls since states aren’t required to report gender-specific stats. Nevertheless, one estimate determined that in 2018, there were about 45,000 fewer boys who graduated from high school than girls.

That resulted in a net disadvantage of roughly six percentage points for boys, a number that remained unchanged as of 2021.

So what does it all mean? Not only do multiple studies show that boys who earn a high school diploma earn more on average than those who don’t over the course of a lifetime, men who didn’t graduate are also statistically more likely to end up behind bars.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 31st, 2023
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