Research in Higher Education

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 573–593 | Cite as

More Girls Go to College: Exploring the Social and Academic Factors Behind the Female Postsecondary Advantage Among Hispanic and White Students

  • Catherine Riegle-Crumb


This study examines the female postsecondary advantage in matriculation among Hispanic and white youth with the goal of exploring whether social capital, in addition to academic performance and orientation, function similarly to help explain females’ higher likelihood of college attendance for each group. Utilizing data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project (THEOP), results indicate that girls’ higher academic performance in high school is an important factor behind their subsequent gender advantage in 4-year college attendance, particularly for Hispanic students. Additionally, compared to their co-ethnic male peers, Hispanic and white girls have greater levels of social capital, such as more academically-focused friendship groups in high school, that are associated with higher rates of college attendance. However, girls’ greater frequency of discussion with high school counselors about college appears to contribute to the female advantage in matriculation only for Hispanic students. For both groups, the analyses suggest that all of the factors considered explain substantially less of the female advantage in 2-year college matriculation than they do for the female advantage in 4-year matriculation. In general, the results underscore the need for more research considering the complex processes through which gender and race/ethnicity intersect in shaping individuals’ paths to college.


Gender Hispanic Diversity College matriculation Social capital Academic performance High school 



This research uses data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project (THEOP) and acknowledges the following agencies that made THEOP data available through grants and support: Ford Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF Grant # SES-0350990), The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD Grant # R24H0047879), and The Office of Population Research at Princeton University. The author wishes to thank participants at the THEOP Research Conference at Princeton, Kelly Raley, and the anonymous reviewers of this article for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of Texas At AustinAustinUSA

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