The Ascent of African American Females and the Decline of African American Males Introduction
Throughout the history of the United States, African Americans have been discriminated against in all areas of life including academics. African Americans are still lagging behind their white counterparts in various academic achievement areas. In Oakland High School, only 40.8% of graduating African Americans have completed their UC/CSU requirements. It is a telltale sign that something is wrong. Moreover, there is a growing disparity within the group in that African American females are performing better than their male counterparts. Around 73% of African American girls graduate from Oakland High School whereas only 63% of African American boys do. Since African American women are attaining higher education in higher rates than African American men, this difference can have larger social implications. We know that African American men are more likely than men of other races to go down the path toward incarceration (Ferguson 2000). On the other hand, African American women represent 63% of the total black college student population which indicates that they are heading toward the path to success (Kimmel 2004:172). This gender gap will create a disruption to the social dynamics within the African American community. Marriage rates will be low as women do not want to marry men who are not capable of finding a job. All the efforts during the civil rights movement will be wasted if the African American community is in disarray. In order to continue the progress of social equality for African Americans, we need to tackle the problem from the roots. Schooling is an important factor in elevating social status; therefore, my research question is why are African American female students achieving higher rates of academic success than African American male students in Oakland High School? This research will pave the road toward understanding racial and gender differences that contribute to this problem, and hopefully by understanding the issue, a solution can be formulated. Literature Review
The success of African American girls may be at the expense of African American boys. Numerous studies have shown that African American boys are seen as “dangerous” or “at-risk” of failing even though many are quite intelligent. According to Ann Ferguson (2000), many teachers misconstrue the actions of African American boys as malicious in nature. In addition, there is an overrepresentation of African American men in the prison system which further reinforce these negative stereotypes. These stereotypes can have detrimental effects in the classroom as teachers already have an ill-conceived notion of African American boys. In a study by Casteel (2010), African American students received less contact from teachers than their white counterparts, and it was especially true for African American boys. As these boys receive less attention, they start to self-fulfill their bad boy prophecy and believe that they cannot get far in life. All these factors compound and create a barrier to success for many African American boys. The literature offers a great insight into the specifics of how negative stereotypes are affecting African American boys, but it does little to pinpoint the success of African American girls. Its narrow focus creates an inherent weakness in answering the research question.
There is an ongoing trend of more and more women attending college and at higher rates than men. African American female students are also part of this upward trend. One study has found that “men are more likely to drop out of high school” (Wells et al 2011:12). Given this information, it shows that African American female students are already at an advantage since men drop out and fail to achieve academic success. One caveat is that the study does not take ethnicity or race into consideration. Furthermore, the study shows that parental influence has a major effect...
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