Volume 38 - Article 39 | Pages 1155–1188

Gender differences in educational adaptation of immigrant-origin youth in the United States

By Yue Qian, Claudia Buchmann, Zhe Zhang

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Date received:24 Sep 2017
Date published:23 Mar 2018
Word count:6445
Keywords:educational adaptation, gender, gender differences, immigration, race/ethnicity, segmented assimilation, United States


Background: Immigrant-origin students (i.e., first- and second-generation immigrants) comprise roughly 20% of the US school-age population. Despite growing awareness of a female-favorable gender gap in educational performance, quantitative research on immigrant educational adaptation rarely considers whether there are differences in the educational adaptation patterns between boys and girls.

Methods: Using a nationally representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores from the Educational Longitudinal Study, we examine gender-specific patterns of generational differences in high school grades and investigate racial/ethnic variation in these patterns.

Results: Among whites and Asians, girls and boys exhibit similar patterns of educational adaptation as measured by high school grade point average, but there are significant gender differences in patterns of educational adaptation among blacks and Hispanics. Second-generation Hispanic boys, but not girls, have lower grades than their coethnic native counterparts, and first-generation black boys, but not girls, earn higher grades than their native peers. Class preparedness and instrumental motivation partially explain these gender differences in educational adaptation, especially among blacks.

Contribution: The results reveal the heterogeneity in immigrant-origin youth’s educational adaptation along gender and racial/ethnic lines and illuminate which students – in terms of gender, generational status, and race/ethnicity – are most at risk of downward mobility.

Author's Affiliation

Yue Qian - University of British Columbia, Canada [Email]
Claudia Buchmann - Ohio State University, United States of America [Email]
Zhe Zhang - Ohio State University, United States of America [Email]

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