Cal Poly’s gender gap in graduation rates shows more women graduating than men. This gender gap exists not only on Cal Poly’s campus, but nationwide as well.
In 2018, 86.4 percent of females graduated, while 78.7 percent of males graduated from Cal Poly. The university’s 2018 gender gap in graduation rates was 7.6 percent — an increase from 2017’s 6.8 percent gap. Although this is a slight increase, the gap is catching the attention of the students and staff.
“The first thing is the awareness that it’s there and then trying to figure out and build academic programs to study the different aspects of what’s going on,” Director of Enrollment Planning & Management Joseph Borzellino said.
Cal Poly data shows the gender gap is decreasing in most colleges but not all. The College of Architecture is the only college at Cal Poly without a gender gap as of 2017.
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Programs & Planning Mary Pedersen said she thinks one of the main reasons for the difference in gender gaps between colleges depends on the curriculum. The architecture curriculum, for example, forces students to go through sequences together, which is different compared to others.
“One of the things we have to do is just talk to the students who are not graduating on time and ask them directly,” Associate Vice Provost for Academic Programs & Planning Bruno Giberti said. “We tend to want to go into the academic record and find something in the records that tells you why, but I think we also have to approach it from a more direct point of view.”
2017 Six-Year Graduation Gender Gaps by College
The California State University (CSU) Graduation Initiative 2025 was set to help increase graduation rates while removing achievement and equity gaps. The initiative lists several strategies, including hiring more faculty to teach additional classes and increasing the number of online courses to boost student success and graduation rates.
“As part of our graduation initiative we have a group, specifically the ‘Student Success/University Research,’ that is focused on studying the gap,” Pedersen said. “That is one of our focuses this year.”
There is no specific answer for the cause of the gender gap, but research teams nationwide are studying this phenomenon.
“I think one of the reasons could be because male and female students are being socialized differently before they get to college,” Giberti said.
Through the university’s advising program, Cal Poly is running small programs to see what is effective and making a difference before moving it to a larger scale.
“We want an integrated, cohesive effort really focused on looking at the data, talking to the students, figuring out why and coming up with some concrete action items about how we can approach it,” Pedersen said.