Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Stephanie Seguino


masculinity, higher education, male enrollment, economics, college enrollment, gender gap


This paper explores the declining male share of enrollment in higher education and the implications for the economy, society, and gender relations. The United States, like many other developed nations, places high emphasis on producing college-educated individuals. The hope is that an investment in a college education will increase a person’s human capital and in turn, yield higher salary returns in the labor market. In the early 20th century, women were excluded from college, and thus male college enrollment exceeded female enrollment. Since the 1980s, however, the college gender gap has declined and is now reversed with men a minority of college enrollees (DiPrete & Buchmann, 2013). The gender gap in higher education has occurred simultaneously with rising labor market and education incentives, suggesting that men are not responding to these increased returns, as seen by the recent slowdown in men’s enrollment (DiPrete & Buchmann, 2013). This paper explores the factors that have contributed to this shift in enrollments. To do so, I present an economic regression analysis using panel data from national higher education institutions as well as macro-level data and sociological variables to explore the determinants of the declining share of male enrollment. The results may be useful in addressing the causes of this trend, and in identifying policies to remedy the problem.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.