Why do more women than men earn college degrees? The reasons are complex, but new research suggests that money plays a big role.
FORTUNE -- The facts are plain, if puzzling: Not only do women enter college at higher rates than men, but they're less likely to drop out once they get there. Female grads now account for about 60% of U.S. bachelor's degree holders.
Does that mean men are less studious or committed than women are?
Not necessarily. Instead, it seems the gender gap's roots are partly financial: Men are less willing to take on the heavy debt loads that are increasingly required to complete a college degree. When they reach the point of owing $12,500 in school loans, men "are more likely to be discouraged" than women -- and to decide it makes sense to leave school and start working full-time.
That's according to a new study, "Gender, Debt, and Dropping Out of College," published in a recent issue of the journal Gender & Society. The researchers, three professors from Ohio State University and Pacific Lutheran University, analyzed data from a national longitudinal study of youth from 1997 to 2011, funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that included interviews with about 9,000 men and women in their 20s.
It turns out that persistent wage gaps in the labor market play a big part in motivating women to finish school. In the short term, men who drop out face no financial penalty in their entry-level salaries. Women, on the other hand, pay a steep price right away for dropping out, since female dropouts earn entry-level pay that averages $6,500 a year lower than what their male counterparts earn.
"Female dropouts simply face worse job prospects," the authors observe. "They are more likely to be employed in lower-paying service work, while men who drop out have more opportunities in higher-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, and transportation."
True, but parents of college-age kids may want to emphasize one further finding: Male dropouts' earnings advantages are short-lived. While men who leave college before graduating "don't face a wage penalty early on, the penalty accumulates later," the study notes. "By middle age, men with a college degree earn $20,000 a year more, on average, than men with some college but no degree."
An unwillingness to pile on debt when they could be making money may explain why more men quit school, but what accounts for the fact that fewer men start college in the first place? In a new book called The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann, sociology professors at Columbia and Ohio State, respectively, tackle that thorny question -- and come up with answers that challenge conventional wisdom.
Boys get lower grades than girls, and report liking school less, not because girls are naturally more studious or because schools aren't "boy-friendly" enough, they write. Rather, "our research shows that boys' underperformance in school has more to do with society's norms about masculinity ... Boys involved in extracurricular cultural activities such as music, art, drama, and foreign languages report higher levels of school engagement and get better grades than other boys. But these activities are often denigrated as un-masculine."
DiPrete and Buchmann believe schools need to do better in two main areas. First, "the most important predictor of boys' achievement is the extent to which the school culture expects and rewards academic effort," they write. "We need schools that set high expectations [and] treat each student as an individual, as opposed to a gender stereotype."
Second, the authors write, their research shows that "boys have less understanding than girls about how their future success in college and work is directly linked to their academic effort in middle school and high school." Making that connection clear, they argue, could go a long way toward closing the gender gap in higher education.
Detroit's transportation infrastructure has been in a state of chaotic flux over the last few years. It's been a period that's included both drastic cuts to public bus service and the emergence of new transit alternatives like the private Detroit Bus Company and the anticpated M-1 rail line.
Now a service that is both a smartphone app and a transit option is setting up shop in Detroit. It's called Uber -- and it could change the way people think about getting around in the Motor City.
At its heart, the company is an on-demand luxury car service that uses smartphone technology to quickly connect passengers with private drivers. Uber is available as an app for Android and iPhone users, as well as through a website.
Although service officially launched Wednesday, Uber has been testing and offering "secret" preview rides in Metro Detroit since March 7.
A new public service announcement has just hit the web, urging young girls to steer away from sending sexy pictures to their significant others.
"There's no such thing as 'just one photo.'" a message on the video reads. "Protect yourself from sexual exploitation. Be safe."
The PSA is targeted toward young girls but the message can be applied to women of all ages. Although it seems like everyone is doing it, before we arch our backs and snap away in our bathroom mirrors, maybe we should really weigh the pros and cons of this decision.
For starters, with the Internet and use of social media nothing is private these days. When it comes to texting nude or partially nude photographs, you run the risk of having your most intimate parts emailed, posted or retexted anywhere. Look at the countless celebrity victims — Chris Brown, Kanye West, Adrienne Bailon, Trina, Cassie, Amber Rose, Ron Artest, Rihanna...the list just goes on and on.
When you text a playful or naughty photo, essentially you are saying, "I trust you with this content." While you are exposed and in your most vulnerable state, you run the risk of possible shame or embarrassment. Just think if you ever wanted to run for public office; a racy photo can come back to haunt you and too bad there's no real-life Olivia Pope to help you out.
To the contrary, according to reports, some experts say sexting can be a powerful medium for building intimacy in a relationship.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The automobile industry is at the start of a big year for new product introductions, making the opening day of the New York Auto Show an important one for the industry.
The Cadillac CTS (pictured), which was unveiled Wednesday, is an early candidate to be car of the year, just one year after its little cousin the Cadillac ATS won the honor for GM (GM). The new Jeep Cherokee represents Chrysler's effort to assume what ought to be its rightful place in the compact SUV market, where it really ought to play a bigger role. The new Toyota (TM) Highlander shows that Toyota has the muscle to maintain a strong position among the mid-sized SUVS.
About 20 new vehicles are being rolled out at the New York Auto Show. It's hard to escape the view that GM is dominating here, just as it did at the Detroit Auto Show, in the midst of a period when it plans to roll out 13 new vehicles over 13 months and to have refreshed or re-introduced 70% of its lineup by the end of 2013.
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