Cultural capital formation in adolescence: High schools and the gender gaps in arts and service activity participation
Gender differences in arts consumption have early roots among adolescents. Girls have historically dominated participation in extracurricular arts activities. Yet research does not consider whether gender gaps in participation are consistent across schools and whether school-based resources might influence them. In this paper, we combine data on ninth-grade students (typically, 14–15 year-olds) at public high schools in the state of North Carolina with data from schools to examine how school-based resources influence gender gaps in arts participation. We find that the extent and direction of the gender gaps for arts participation vary significantly across schools. In particular, school location—whether rural or urban—and racial composition influence the extent of these gender gaps. Our results suggest that adolescent culture as it pertains to gender and arts participation varies across schools and that this variation likely reinforces or attenuates gender differences in cultural participation among adults that are often linked to early arts socialization.