GOOD

Black Women Are Now The Most Educated Group In The U.S.

But what does it mean?

Valedictorian at Morgan State University, 1945 (Getty Images)

The National Center for Education Statistics released a new suite of college enrollment stats; its findings are remarkable. Namely, there’s a higher percentage of African-American women enrolled in college than any other group. This 9.7 percent enrollment rate tops Asian women (8.7 percent), white women (7.1 percent) and white men (6.1 percent).


The report also notes, “Black females earned 68 percent of associate’s degrees, 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees, and 65 percent of all doctor’s degrees awarded to black students.” And in the key demographic of 18- to 24-year-old black women, over half are now enrolled in college.

Sounds pretty great right? Now we can just blast out this proof-of-progress on social media, feel good, and move on to more pressing issues.

Obviously the big picture is not quite so tidy. If you’re looking to get bummed out, there’s an avalanche of labor statistics to suit the mood. As in, despite all the education, African-American women have only a tiny fraction of leadership roles in the workforce (there is but one black woman CEO on the Fortune 500 list). As of 2013, black women earned but 64 cents to every white male dollar. And according to a report from Black Women’s Roundtable, they are “more likely than any group in America to work for poverty-level wages.”

None of this is to throw cold water on a significant milestone; it simply speaks to the need for perspective. We caught up with Nell Irvin Painter, one of the foremost scholars on race and gender in America, to learn how much weight she thinks we should give the new findings.

You’ve surely heard about these new education statistics.

Oh, yes. I put up something on my Facebook page. As you might expect, there is a lot of pride there, the sense of something to be celebrated.

What was your initial take?

In some sense, this is more about women than it is about black women. The fact that women are going to college more than men is old news. This is part of a larger phenomenon but—as with many things—it’s more extreme in the black community. The fact that black women are going to college more than black men is even older news.

Broadly, what do you think is behind the stats?

Whatever’s happening in our society that makes women going to college more than men, that's the best explanation. Further, for generations, black Americans have seen education as an important way of mitigating discrimination. It’s a particular truism in our community that you need an education to succeed. It’s one area where we’re able to say, “You can’t take that away from me.”

How does this contrast with the status quo a generation or two ago?

Not so long ago, jobs for black women were highly circumscribed; our choices were not wide. We couldn't do on-the-job training to become a plumber or a longshoreman, for instance. Just going to college to become a teacher was a significant step for black women, and for all women. It was seen as a lifesaver, or an escape hatch.

But this new data did not shock you?

It’s a little surprising, but much of this has been going on for some time. It was back in the ‘80s that women started to outnumber men at universities. Even places like UNC Chapel Hill that had started as men’s schools were seeing a majority of women students. So this has been happening for awhile.

That doesn’t mean it’s insignificant. Part of what makes news and what makes history is how we interpret raw material. We have to curate it somehow, make sense of the world around us. Headlines about black women being more educated tell a story about progress, and that’s not a bad thing.

Articles
Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture