Women outnumber men 3-to-2 at black colleges, according to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. At the 100 accredited HBCUs, 61.5 percent of the students are women, up from 53 percent in 1976 and exceeding the overall national average of 56 percent. Ten percent of black males who attend college go to an HBCU, most of which are located in the South.
“Women are very motivated to pursue education. Their ambition is fueled by advancement,” said Michael L. Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, an umbrella organization of private HBCUs. “Black women get it, but for whatever reason, that same impetus hasn’t been happening with African-American men, or with men, period.”
Experts and students say black men are less prepared than their female counterparts for the rigors of college, face tougher financial hurdles, have fewer role models to inspire them to further their educations, and are less likely to ask for academic or financial assistance.
In addition, of the black males who make it to an HBCU, only 29 percent will graduate within six years, which is worse than the 33 percent national average of black males at all colleges. Nationally, the six-year graduation rate is 57 percent.
In 2011, a report issued by Education Week showed that while the 72 percent high school graduation rate was the highest in decades, blacks were graduating at a paltry 57 percent clip. And while the overall black unemployment rate is around 15 percent, college-educated black men who are working still make far less than their white counterparts.
The gender gap is magnified at CAU, where a staggering 74 percent of the students are female. Last fall, as the school welcomed one of the largest freshman classes in history—more than 1,000—fewer than 100 were men.