|Academic Discipline||Male Degrees||Female Degrees||Percent Female|
|Family and consumer sciences||2,762||19,682||87.7%|
|Legal professions and studies||1,317||3,112||70.3%|
|Area, ethnic, gender studies||2,801||6,299||69.2%|
|English language and literature||16,916||35,828||67.9%|
|Liberal arts and general studies||16,488||30,239||64.7%|
|Visual and performing arts||36,341||57,615||61.3%|
|Biological and biomedical sciences||36,892||53,111||59.0%|
|Close to Gender Parity|
|Social sciences and history||89,814||87,330||49.3%|
|Homeland security, law enforcement||24,361||23,241||48.8%|
|Business, management, marketing||187,081||178,012||48.8%|
|Agriculture and natural resources||14,675||13,948||48.7%|
|Parks, recreation, leisure studies||18,936||16,988||47.3%|
|Mathematics and statistics||9,783||7,399||43.1%|
|Physical sciences, science technologies||14,782||9,930||40.2%|
|Philosophy and religious studies||8,149||4,687||36.5%|
|Theology and religious vocations||6,118||2,956||32.6%|
|Computer and information sciences||35,478||7,594||17.6%|
|Transportation and materials moving||4,345||596||12.1%|
The table above is based on the most recent data from the Department of Education on bachelor’s degrees by academic discipline and the sex of the graduating students for the college class of 2011 (most recent year available). Here are some observations:
1. Women earned 57.2% of all bachelor’s degrees in 2011, which also means that there were almost 134 women in that year’s graduating class for every 100 men.
2. For the College Class of 2011, women significantly outnumbered men in 15 academic disciplines, men outnumbered women in nine academic fields, and there was approximate gender parity in five disciplines.
3. For bachelor’s degrees in health professions (primarily registered nursing), 566 women graduated in 2011 for every 100 men, for public administration there were 446 female graduates for every 100 men, for education there were 391 women for every 100 men, and for psychology there were 334 women for every 100 men.
4. In the most unbalanced academic fields favoring males, 481 men graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering for every 100 female graduates, and 467 men earned a degree in computer science for every 100 women.
5. As much as we hear about female under-representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), women outnumbered men for bachelor’s degrees in biological and biomedical sciences by a ratio of 144 females for every 100 males. Women also earned more than 43% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in mathematics in 2011, and more than 44% of the degrees in general mathematics (the most popular of the 12 sub-disciplines in math). For general chemistry (another STEM field), women earned almost half (48.8%) of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2011.
6. As noted many times before on this blog, there are significant gender imbalances favoring women in higher education, in terms of total degrees awarded, and degrees awarded within many academic disciplines. Women earn more degrees in biology than men, and almost as many degrees in chemistry and mathematics. But all we ever hear about is concern about female under-representation in certain STEM fields like engineering and computer science, with no concern ever expressed for the significant male under-representation for college degrees in general, or the male under-representation in female-dominated fields like health professions, education, public administration, biology and psychology.
7. Although not shown here, female over-representation in higher education gets even greater at the master’s level. In 2011, females earned more than 60% of the graduate degrees awarded, which means that there were almost 151 women earning master’s degrees in that year for every 100 men.
MP: Maybe it’s perfectly natural to expect gender differences by academic discipline, and we should give up trying to socially engineer perfect gender parity by academic field, e.g. STEM, especially when the concern about gender imbalances is so well…. imbalanced.