The data drawn upon to explore the questions just raised are returns from a 1990 mail survey of more than 2,000 college students.16 The survey focused on gender differences in five specific areas of African American college experiences. Three are outcomes (academic per­formance, college satisfaction, and self-concept); the fourth concerns campus racial climate; and the fifth concerns background characteris­tics. Academic performance was measured by two questions. The first asked, "Which of the following best describes your college grade-point average?"17 Table 12.1 reveals an interesting paradox: higher percentages of African American women than men fell at both extremes of high grades18 and low grades.19 Further comparison re­veals that males have a slightly higher median or midpoint of the grade distribution than females.20 The paradox in Black female/Black male college academic performance is also evidenced when we com­pare their responses to the second question, "Have you ever been on academic probation at this university?"21 A higher percentage of women than men have never been on academic probation,22 and a higher percentage of women than men reported that they were cur­rently on academic probation.23 This seems to suggest that African American women are simultaneously likely to be more and less suc­cessful in college than Black men.

Needless to say, how well a student performs academically is an important college outcome. Another is college satisfaction, which is highly correlated with academic success.24 Students were asked, "How satisfied are you with each of the following at this university? Your relations with faculty? Your financial support arrangements? Your social life at the university? Your academic performance?"25 Table 12.1 shows a mixed pattern for levels of satisfaction with col­lege among African American women and men. Equally strong dis­satisfaction was expressed in terms of finances26 and grades.27 African American women were much less satisfied with campus life, how­ever, than Black men.

Table 12.1

Percentage Distributions for Study Variables by Student Gender among Blacks

Black Students

Study Variables Men Women

A. College Academic Performance

College Grades

A+, A, or A-

6.4%

10.7%

B+

21%

18%

B

23.8%

16.7%

B-

19.2%

18.9%

C+

17.1%

20.1%

C or lower

12.4%

15.5%

N

281

587

On Academic Probation

Yes, now

8.9%

12.1%

Yes, in the past

29.3%

20.8%

No

61.8%

67.1%

N

280

587

Подпись:Black Students Men Women

B. College Satisfaction

Satisfaction with Social Life

Very Dissatisfied

6.9%

9.1%

Dissatisfied

17.7%

16.8%

Neither

31.4%

34.7%

Satisfied

34.7%

31.6%

Very Satisfied

9.4%

7.7%

N 277 582

Satisfaction with Faculty Relations

Very Dissatisfied

4.0%

6.2%

Dissatisfied

18.3%

19.5%

Neither

34.5%

32.3%

Satisfied

35.6%

35.0%

Very Satisfied

7.6%

7.0%

N

278

585

Satisfaction with

Academic Performance

Very Dissatisfied

11.8%

13.1%

Dissatisfied

36.6%

26.8%

Neither

17.9%

18.1%

Satisfied

29.7%

36.2%

Very Satisfied

3.9%

5.8%

N

279

586

Satisfaction with Financial Aid

Very Dissatisfied

20.4%

18.9%

Dissatisfied

15.8%

16.2%

Neither

20.4%

18.4%

Satisfied

27.2%

28.5%

Very Satisfied

16.1%

18.0%

N

279

582

C. Self-Concept

Self-Confidence

Highest

10.1%

11.9%

Above Average

24.1%

34.5%

Average

37.4%

33.3%

Below Average

28.4%

20.2%

N

278

579

Academic Ability

Highest

3.9%

9.5%

Above Average

45.2%

49.4%

Average

41.2%

32.8%

Below Average

9.7%

8.3%

N

281

577

Подпись: Racial Conflict on Campus Very Little 10.4% 10.1% Slight 24.7% 19.9% Some 42.7% 41.8% Substantial 16.8% 21.3% Very Substantial 5.4% 7.0% N 279 574 Concern for Black Issues Very Little 12.1% 13.0% Slight 23.1% 20.9% Some 37.4% 37.8% Substantial 21.7% 21.6% Very Substantial 5.7% 6.7% N 281 579 Racial Separation on Campus Very Little 3.2% 6.4% Slight 13.3% 12.6% Some 32.6% 32.4% Substantial 35.8% 34.0% Very Substantial 15.1% 14.7% N 279 565 E. Background

Mother’s Education Less than High School H. S. Grad Some College B. A., B. S. Degree Master’s Degree J. D., M. D., Ph. D.

Подпись: 11.7% 12% 29.4% 21.9% 27.2% 32.6% 13.6% 18.7% 14.3% 11.8% 3.8% 3.0% 265 567 N

High School Grade

A+, A, or A-

23.5%

32.8%

B+

18.8%

22.7%

B

22.4%

19.3%

B-

12.6%

9.4%

C+

12.6%

9.2%

C or lower

10.1%

6.6%

N

277

576

ACT Score

Mean

22.0

19.1

Median

21.0

20.0

Total No. of Black Males = 281 Total No. of Black Females = 589

Self-concept is another important college outcome and is also correlated with academic performance. Here, too, the survey re­vealed gender differences. Students were asked, "If you were com­pared to most other students at this university, how would you be rated on the following points? Your self-confidence? Your academic ability?"28 Almost an equal percentage of men and women in this sample reported the highest category of self-confidence;29 however, a higher percentage of African American males than females reported "below-average" confidence.30 Moreover, Black women in the sample were two and a half times more likely than Black men to report the highest category in academic self-concept.31

Studies have shown that a campus’s racial climate considerably influences the experiences and outcomes of African American stu­dents who attend predominantly white universities.32 This dimension of Black student college life was measured by asking, "Institutions vary in racial ‘climate’ on campus, in the patterns of Black and white relations. How would you rate the extent to which each of the follow­ing is present on or descriptive of your own campus? The degree of racial conflict on campus? Concern for Black issues on campus? The degree of racial separation on campus?"33 African American women were much more likely than African American men to report racial conflict as substantial or very substantial.34 With respect to whether their college was addressing Black issues, more than one-third of both sexes reported that the concern evidenced was "very little" or "slight."35 There was also consensus between Black men and Black women regarding the degree of racial separation on campus. Nearly half of both males and females placed the separation by race on cam­pus at "substantial" or "very substantial" levels.36

Not surprisingly, these data indicate that Black male and Black fe­male students feel marginalized and isolated on predominantly white college campuses. However, the racial climate at these institutions seem to impact Black females more than Black males. One explana­tion for this difference is that Black women’s realization that they are at the bottom of a power hierarchy makes them feel more vulnerable to racial and sexual assaults.

The final point of comparison in this survey is student back­ground. Mother’s education was measured by asking, "Please circle the number corresponding to the highest level of education com­pleted by each of the following members of your family37 with most years of schooling."38 High school academic record was measured by asking, "What was your average grade in high school?"39 Standard­ized test performance was measured by asking, "Did you take the ACT? What was your score?" Approximately the same percentage of men and women in this sample of African American college students had mothers who held college degrees—bachelor’s or higher.40 How­ever, the percentage of women whose mothers had completed some college was much higher.41 On balance, the mothers of these Black college students were highly educated. For both men and women, one-third of mothers held college degrees. Two-thirds of the women’s mothers had at least some college, compared to 60 percent of males. Certainly in this sample, the established link between high maternal education and high college student education level/aspirations among African Americans was confirmed.42 Although the study re­vealed that Black females were the superior students in high school,43 Black males and females were virtually indistinguishable by perform­ance on the ACT standardized admissions test.44