With women outpacing their male counterparts in average GPAs in every college at UT, some faculty members say the reasons could range from gender socialization to the realities of the job market.
Across the University, women had an average GPA of 3.21 while men had an average GPA of 3.12 in fall 2013, according to data from the Office of Information Management and Analysis.
Differences ranged from the average cumulative GPA of women being 9.1 percent higher than men’s in the College of Education to 0.3 percent higher in the McCombs School of Business.
According to Catherine Riegle-Crumb, sociology and education associate professor, these differences in GPAs may be a result of gender socialization occurring as early as middle school, despite men and women having the same cognitive capabilities.
“Girls tend to work harder,” Riegle-Crumb said. “We have cultural expectations of girls to follow rules and do what is expected of them. They are more likely to be able to have the behavioral and social skills that will allow them to excel.”
According to Riegle-Crumb, the discrepancy between GPAs is not specific to UT. Riegle-Crumb said selective colleges such as UT admit students who are already making higher grades to begin with, which recently have been women. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the enrollment rate for degree-granting institutions in 2012 was 44.5 percent for women, compared to 37.6 percent for men.
“Kids who work really hard in high school are going to be the ones who work really hard in college, even though the content changes,” Riegle-Crumb said.
According to sociology professor Chandra Muller, another reason the average GPA of women may be higher is because it is necessary for them to invest in their education.
“Women without a college degree are seriously penalized in the labor market,” Muller said in an email. “Even though there continues to be an earning gap between men and women, that gap is relatively smaller for people with a college degree.”
Muller said the average GPAs reported by the University only demonstrate overall patterns, hiding how the variance in GPA may be larger for men than women.
“There are some men who do very well and some who do especially poorly, and the GPA spread is larger among men,” Muller said.
Theatre and dance freshman Ryan Lord said he was not surprised to learn that women tend to receive higher grades than men.
“I guess since women haven’t had as many opportunities in the past, they may be driven to succeed because of the history of women in education,” Lord said. “[But] I don’t think you can generalize either gender.”