While minority college enrollment has dramatically increased over the past 20 years, a new report reveals inequality between whites and minority students continues to exist. The “Minorities in Higher Education Annual Status Report,” conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE), also shows that women of color have made the most progress and contributed greatly to the overall increase in minority enrollment in higher education.
According to the ACE finding, total minority enrollment has jumped from 2 million to 4.3 million over the past 20 years. The report, however, also reveals an increasing gap among different racial/ethnic groups, from a college participation rate of about 30 percent for all races between 1978 and 1980, to participations rates between 1998-2000 of 46 percent for whites, 40 percent for African Americans, and 34 percent for Hispanics.
Many of the increases in minority participation in higher education are partially the result of the dramatic gains made by women of color in the past 20 years. Within the African-American student population, for example, 42 percent of women are enrolled in college, up from 28 percent two decades ago. The percentage of African-American men in college, however, has only increased 7 percent in the same time period, from 30 percent to 37 percent. Hispanic women have also surged ahead of their male counterparts, with 37 percent enrolled in college now compared to 27 percent 20 years ago. Hispanic male enrollment in college remains at 31 percent. Women have also earned the majority of professional and doctorate degrees among minorities.
Despite these gains, whites still make up 89 percent of the highest academic posts, even after minority professors have doubled over the past 20 years. William Harvey, the study’s author, stated that the findings “caution us that equity in education for all Americans remains a goal we must strive to reach.” “We must redouble our efforts to improve the rates at which students of color enroll in postsecondary institutions if minorities underrepresented in higher education are to achieve parity with their white counterparts,” said David Ward, president of ACE.