Felix Weiss, Mirte M.M. Scholten
Gender differences in the influence of parental class on young adults’ participation in postsecondary education in the US

Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2014: 38, issue 2, pp. 182-199
ISSN: 0309-877X (print); 1469-9486 (online)

As with earlier social disparities in educational achievement, re-enrolment in college education can depend on parental social background. We link this finding with gender differences using data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Youth 79 and ask if the decision to re-enrol in college is influenced by parental social class in a gender-specific way. The results show that adding maternal class position to the operationalisation of social origin can be beneficial and result in a better model fit. Moreover, there are gender differences on the part of the child. Working-class men are constantly disadvantaged in their chances to re-enrol in education throughout their lives compared to men with more privileged family backgrounds, while working-class women are only disadvantaged among early re-entrants. This result is reversed in later years and women with working-class parents re-enrol more often.