Divergent streams: Race-Gender Achievement Gaps at Selective Colleges and Universities

Douglas S. Massey, Lierin Probasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this paper, we extend previous research on racial performance gaps at twenty-eight selective U.S. colleges and universities by examining differences in grade achievement and graduate rates across race-gender categories. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF), we show that Black males, Black females, and Hispanic males attain significantly lower grades than other race-gender groups, and that Black males are thirty-five percent less likely to graduate on-time than other race-gender groups. Analyses consider an array of personal and institutional indicators of academic performance. Grades and graduation rates are improved by academic preparation (particularly high school grade point average), scholarly effort, and, for graduation rates, membership in career-oriented or majority-White campus groups. Grade performance and graduation rates are undermined by a hostile racial climate on campus, family stress, and stereotype threat, all of which disproportionately affect minority students. We conclude with recommendations to college administrators for ways of selecting and supporting minority students to reduce differentials in academic achievement across race-gender groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-246
Number of pages28
JournalDu Bois Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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