Carpe Diem

Women earned majority of doctoral degrees in 2011 for 3rd straight year, and outnumber men in grad school 141 to 100

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released its annual report today on U.S. graduate school enrollment and degrees for 2011, here are links to the press release and full report, and here are some of the more interesting findings in this year’s report:

1. For the third year in a row, women in 2011 earned a majority of doctoral degrees. Of the 62,910 doctoral degrees awarded in 2011 at U.S. universities, women earned 32,970 of those degrees and 52.5% of the total, compared to 29,859 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.5% of the total (see top chart above).  The 52.5% female share of doctoral degrees in 2011 increased from the 51.9% female share in 2010 and the 50.4% female share in 2009, which was the first year ever that women outnumbered men earning doctoral degrees. Previously, women started earning a majority of associate’s degrees in 1978, master’s degrees in 1981, and bachelor’s degrees in 1982 according to the Department of Education. Therefore 2009 marked the year when men officially became the “second sex” in higher education by earning a minority of college degrees at all levels from associate’s degrees up to doctoral degrees.

2. By field of study, women earning doctoral degrees outnumbered men in 7 of the 11 graduate fields tracked by the CGS (see chart above): Arts and Humanities (53% female), Biology (51.2%, that’s a STEM field), Education (68.8%), Health Sciences 71.3%, Public Administration (60%), Social/Behavioral Studies (62.6%) and Other fields (53.6%).  Men still earn a majority of doctoral degrees in the fields of Business (62.3% male), Engineering (78%), Math and Computer Science (75%), and Physical Sciences (67.3%).

3. The middle chart above shows the gender breakdown for master’s degrees awarded in 2011, and the gender disparity in favor of females is significant – women earned just under 60% of all master’s degrees in 2011, which would also mean that women earned 147.5 master’s degrees last year for every 100 degrees earned by men.  Like for doctoral degrees, women outnumbered men in the same 7 out of the 11 fields of graduate study and in some of those fields the gender disparity was huge.  For example, women earned more than 400 master’s degrees in health sciences for every 100 men, and more than 300 master’s degrees in both education and public administration for every 100 men.

4. The bottom chart above displays total enrollment in 2011 by gender and field for all graduate school programs in the U.S. (both master’s and doctoral), showing that there is a significant gender gap in favor of women for students attending graduate school.  Women represent 58.5% of all graduate students in the U.S., meaning that there are now 141 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men.  In certain fields like Education (74.4% female), Health Sciences (78.2% female) and Public Administration (75.1%), women outnumber men by a factor of almost three or more.  By field of study, women enrolled in graduate school outnumber men in the same 7 out of the 11 graduate fields of study noted above, with females being a minority share of graduate students in only Business (44.3% female), Engineering (22.8% female), Math and Computer Science (28.8% female), and Physical Sciences (37.3% female).

Here’s a prediction: The facts that: a) men are underrepresented in graduate school enrollment overall (100 men were enrolled in 2011 for every 141 women), b) men received fewer master’s (40.4% of the total) and doctoral degrees (47.5% of the total) than women in 2011, and c) men were underrepresented in 7 out of 11 graduate fields of study at both the master’s and doctoral levels will get no attention at all from the media or universities. Additionally, there will be no calls for government studies, or increased government funding to address the significant gender disparities in graduate schools, and nobody will refer to the gender graduate school enrollment and degree gaps favoring women as a problem or a “crisis.”  Further, neither President Obama nor Congress will address the gender graduate enrollment and degree gaps by invoking the Title IX gender-equity law, like they have threatened to do for the gender gap in some college math and science programs.  And there won’t be any executive orders to address the huge gender disparity in graduate schools by creating a White House Council on Boys and Men like the executive order issued by President Obama in 2009 to create the “White House Council on Women and Girls.”  Despite their stated commitment to “gender equity,” the hundreds of university women’s centers around the country are unlikely to show any concern about the significant gender inequities in graduate school enrollment and degrees, and universities will not be allocating funding to set up men’s centers or create scholarships for men.

Bottom Line: If there is any attention about gender differences in the CGS annual report, it will likely be about the fact that women are a minority in 4 of the 11 fields of graduate study including engineering and computer science (a gender gap which some do consider to be a “crisis”), with calls for greater awareness of female under-representation in STEM graduate fields of study and careers.  But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented.

23 thoughts on “Women earned majority of doctoral degrees in 2011 for 3rd straight year, and outnumber men in grad school 141 to 100

  1. Oh, I can’t tell you how comforted I am that Herr Obama is having a conference about us little damsels in distress so he can figure out how to really screw things up for us since regressives haven’t yet managed to completely destroy us with affirmative action.

      • No response, methinks? Perhaps you can explain to me how awesome women are at math and science AND make up a majority of grad students, yet only manage to pull down math and science PhDs at a ratio of between 1:2 and 1:4.

        Show me some of that good ole understanding of probability distributions that do NOT reinforce that women are not good at math and science. Let’s see your awesome math and probability skills.

        • I would, but if you repeatedly write “women aren’t good at math” after reading Murray Rice’s and Sprewell’s excellent explanations on the math thread below, then I will just quietly enjoy the irony with a glass of wine.

          • Ah, yes, go taste the irony and don’t hurt your pretty little girl brain thinking about math. It’s just easier to get drunk and act smug.

          • LOL! I don’t worry my pretty little girl head explaining things to little boys whose math aptitude is three standard deviations below the mean and I especially don’t when they aggressively fling their ignorance and need a time out.

            Or maybe the problem is that “boys aren’t good at English” so you just don’t understand what you’re writing. Either way, it’s pretty funny and I’m not inclined to help you see your obvious error.

          • Ah, yes, condescension in place of actual argument. You claim that I don’t understand distributions, yet you FAIL to explain how. In place of that explanation, you have only snark and sarcasm.

            Sometimes you’re better than that, but not often. I was just hoping this would be such an occasion. Bitter old Russian hags will simply remain bitter old Russian hags.

          • Kenny, darling. I don’t reward childish behaviour. Perhaps your momma did, but I do not. Your error is obvious to anyone with at least two brain cells. Had you not freaked out, I would have pointed it out to you. But, since you did, I’m content to let it stand and watch you make a complete fool of yourself. It amuses me.

          • Juandos,

            I don’t know if you’re still checking this thread, but I wanted to thank you again for that link. I left it up on my computer and found my husband reading it. So, we read it together more carefully.

            The part that really spoke to us was the expansion of males spheres. That expansion made everyone better off. Now, the female sphere can and is expanding. That increases optionality not only for women but for men and makes all of us better off. But that expansion must be natural. It’s a mistake to think that top-down planning of such an expansion (which is what many feminists want) will yield the results they hope for. In fact, that makes expansion of the female sphere tougher.

        • Juandos, thanks for the link, I briefly skimmed most of it (I really should learn to speed read). It kind of put me to sleep.

          It is astonishing to me that we’re having this discussion at all. So long as women and men are equal under the law (and that wasn’t always the case, but it is now, so it’s time to hang up the pitchforks), I just don’t see what the fuss is about.

          Yes, of course, there’s racism and sexism in the world, but that’s just human nature and any top-down solutions for that will backfire on the very people they’re trying to “help”. The likes of Muriel Siebert and Margie Teller have done more to advance women on Wall Street than any meddler by simply being better and tougher. I was able to raise capital because of my reputation, not affirmative action and I got that reputation because I was successful at what I did. More than “successful”. That’s all anyone should ever care about.

          I don’t get the meddling. If only 33 out of 100 SAT takers scoring 800 in math are women, why do we expect to see a higher percentage seeking STEM degrees (which require extraordinary math aptitude, not just “good” math aptitude)? How do we fix this “imbalance”? Shove more women without the necessary aptitude into degree programs they can’t handle? Do these morons really think throwing less capable women into a field in which they can’t compete and that will erode their confidence is be better for them? What’s the genius plan here?

          The whole question of whether men are needed and/or better or inferior or whatever puts me to sleep. Men and women are different. The more we learn about how we process information differently, the better we will be at working and living together. The domination of women in the Middle East is not leading to a better life for men. If domination of men is achieved in the West, it will not lead to a better life for women. These extremes are annoying in how much of our energy they demand. I work almost exclusively with men. I can tell I process the same information differently. This is great. I see things they miss and vice verse. Nobody sits around thinking about men and women and whether we should hire more women or which sex is “better” (whatever the hell that means). We want to work with the best people who think like us (whatever their specific approach to getting to the same answer is). Why are we wasting energy on anything else?

          • Methinks

            Do these morons really think throwing less capable women into a field in which they can’t compete and that will erode their confidence is be better for them? What’s the genius plan here?

            Well it works well for minorities, doesn’t it? :)

          • I know, Ron. I’m now wary of black doctors who were educated in the United States because I know that even the most incompetent will be graduated by the med school and I can’t tell just by looking at them which is which. That’s doing wonders for the very competent black doctors.

          • Walt, that’s true to a point. But an interest in something doesn’t mean we’ll be good at it either.

            STEM degrees require extraordinary aptitude for math. It may not be the only requirement for success, but if you can’t do the math, you’re quite hampered. While on average the gap in the math aptitude (as measured by the SAT) between girls and boys is small (only 6.6%), when you look at the part of the distribution STEM majors come from, the boys outnumber the girls by almost 2:1. So, the percentage of women we would expect to see in any STEM major is around 35% or so. And that’s pretty much what we see. I don’t know why we need to call it anything but what it is. It’s not a big deal.

    • That argument can be made, but not like this. Stop.

      You are just making those of us who would make that argument persuasively and with care look stupid by association.

  2. A worthless degree is still worthless and a worthless doctorate is still worthless. There’s a lot of grad students and PhDs flipping burgers because they aren’t competent to do anything else. Some can’t even do that.

  3. STEM fields are not female under represented but female shunned. The fields women are over represented in are dismissed as not leading to high paying jobs, yet people from the arts and humanities end up being the people who eventually run our country. They enter politics, law and the media, so exercising enormous influence over our world. STEM graduates create things but graduates from the other fields tell them what to create and what to do with it.

    An excellent article highlighting the duplicity of those in power in all spheres that make our society tick.

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