Gender and College Type Differences in Black Students' Perceptions and Outcomes of a Summer Research Program

Article excerpt


While a growing body of literature documents the effectiveness of summer research programs in stimulating Black students' interest in graduate study, data are rarely disaggregated, resulting in a lack of knowledge of how subgroups of participants experience and benefit from program involvement. Moreover, given that Black students matriculating in doctoral programs are proportionately more likely to be female rather than male and to have earned a bachelor's degree from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) rather than a Traditionally White Institution (TWI), it is important to explore the origins and pervasiveness of such disparities in pre-doctoral experiences. Thus, the present study investigates the extent to which Black undergraduate students' perceptions of a summer research program and subsequent interest in research careers and graduate study differ by gender and college of origin type. Findings indicate that Black males reported statistically significant higher ratings than females on three of the seven items assessed and students from HBCUs reported statistically significant higher ratings on one of the seven variables. Additionally, one interaction effect was identified for females from HBCUs.


One of the most significant issues facing America is the under- education of students, particularly those from groups who are underrepresented in higher education. In a time when educational attainment is of paramount importance to meaningful participation in a global society and a knowledge-based economy, race and ethnicity continue to be variables by which academic performance and educational persistence can be predicted. Research and public attention concerning disparities in education overwhelmingly focus on Preschool through 12th grade (P- 12) issues such as the achievement gap, high school drop-out rates, and college going rates, yet issues of access and representation are most severe and pronounced at the graduate education level. Recent national educational statistics on the representation of Blacks suggest that the proverbial educational "pipeline" is perhaps best described as a funnel that narrows steeply over time (Jackson, 2007). The funnel analogy draws attention to the fact that Blacks' educational participation and completion rates decrease with each successively higher level of education. For example, from 2001 to 2006 Blacks earned on average 9.3% of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 8.9% of all master's degrees, but only 5.5% of all doctorates awarded (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). Indeed, "the share of Blacks among students enrolled in America's public schools [and colleges] decline[s] as grade level increase[s]" (Nettles & Perna, 1997, p. 34).

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2002-2003 women earned a higher percentage of total college degrees than men for all degrees except the doctorate, i.e., 57.5% of all bachelor's degrees and 58.8% of all master's degrees, versus 47. 1 % of all doctorates (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). In fact, the representation of non-resident aliens among doctorate recipients contributes to the doctorate being the only degree where women do not outnumber men. Of the 15,975 doctoral degrees awarded to non-resident aliens in 20052006, 65% were awarded to males compared to 35% awarded to females. Conversely, for U.S. natives, women from racial and ethnic minority groups outnumbered their male counterparts in doctoral degree attainment rates. Specifically, the difference in female and male doctoral degree attainment ranged from 8 to 30 percentage points, with the gap being smallest among Native Americans (8%), increasing to 12% for Hispanics, and escalating to 30% among Blacks. Hence, women earned 65% of all doctorates awarded to Blacks and in terms of total doctorates awarded, Black women earned 7.4% of all doctorates awarded compared to Black men earning just 3. …


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