Monday, February 09, 2009

The Female-Male Higher Education "Degree Gap"


I posted before about the growing "degree gap" between females and males in U.S. higher education, showing charts for bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees, using Department of Education data (actual data through 2005-2006 and projected data through 2016-2017). The Department of Education also tracks associate's degrees at community colleges, and "first-professional degrees" (M.D., D.D.S. and law degrees), and those female and male percentages of total degrees are displayed above.

As the top chart shows, the female-male "degree gap" for associate's degrees started in 1977, and is projected to be 64.17% female vs. 35.83% male by 2016. That would mean that in 2016, more than 179 women will receive associate's degrees for every 100 men.

The bottom charts shows the female-male "degree gap" for professional degrees started in 2006 when women earned more of those degrees (50.48%) for the first time. By 2016, women are projected to receive 53.44% of professional degrees, or almost 115 degrees for women for every 100 degrees for men.

Here's a timeline summary:

1977: First year women earned more associate's degrees than men. By 2016, women will receive 179 associate's degrees for every 100 men.

1981: First year women earned more bachelor's degrees than men. By 2016, 150 women will receive bachelor's degrees for every 100 men.

1985: First year women earned more master's degrees than men. By 2016, women will receive 170 master's degrees for every 100 men.

2006: First year women earned more doctoral degrees and more professional degrees. By 2016, women will receive almost 125 doctoral degrees, and almost 120 professional degrees for every 100 men.

19 Comments:

At 2/09/2009 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, didn’t question the specific numbers in the report or the idea that both male and female students can succeed at the same time. “Women have made huge progress in education over the last six decades,” he said. “The success of women is a great story — it shows what we can do when we set our minds to task.”

But he said that in 1970, when he started his career in higher education policy analysis, there were 1.5 million more men than women in higher education and “I recall vividly that women complained that this was a crisis. Now there are 2.7 million more women than men in higher education and the feminists assert that this is not a crisis. What am I missing here?”

He noted the hugely disproportionate rates of suicide among men who are 25 to 34, and of incarceration, and asked how this could be anything but a crisis.

“The hypocrisy of the feminists — AAUW being a major part of this — astounds me,” Mortenson said.

Link

 
At 2/09/2009 11:45 AM, Anonymous coyote said...

You left one timeline item out.

1994: "Failing at Fairness" published, winning huge media accolades, accusing the US education system of being enormously biased against girls.

LOL

 
At 2/09/2009 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses.

The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree.

The model is the CPA exam that qualifies certified public accountants. The same test is used nationwide. It is thorough -- four sections, timed, totaling 14 hours. A passing score indicates authentic competence (the pass rate is below 50%). Actual scores are reported in addition to pass/fail, so that employers can assess where the applicant falls in the distribution of accounting competence. You may have learned accounting at an anonymous online university, but your CPA score gives you a way to show employers you're a stronger applicant than someone from an Ivy League school.

Link

 
At 2/09/2009 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

College graduates will earn $1 million more than those with only a high school diploma, brags Mercy College radio ads running in the New York area. The $1 million shibboleth is a favorite of college barkers.

Like many good cons, this one contains a kernel of truth. Census figures show that college grads earn an average of $57,500 a year, which is 82% more than the $31,600 high school alumni make. Multiply the $25,900 difference by the 40 years the average person works and, sure enough, it comes to a tad over $1 million.

But anybody who has gotten a passing grade in statistics knows what's wrong with this line of argument. A correlation between B.A.s and incomes is not proof of cause and effect. It may reflect nothing more than the fact that the economy rewards smart people and smart people are likely to go to college. To cite the extreme and obvious example: Bill Gates is rich because he knows how to run a business, not because he matriculated at Harvard. Finishing his degree wouldn't have increased his income.

Link

 
At 2/09/2009 2:56 PM, Blogger QT said...

Anon.,

"The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know, not where they learned it or how long it took them. They need a certification, not a degree. The model is the CPA exam that qualifies certified public accountants."

While this sounds like a good idea, there are a number of problems with this approach. The U.S. Dept. of Labour gives some idea of the thousands of different occupations in the U.S. It is not really practical to custom tailor education to every conceivable occupation. Additionally, many skills are crossfunctional to different occupations. We also do not know what new fields and occupations will develop as a result of technological change.

The professions like accounting, medicine, engineering or architecture have public protection implications so designing professional standards, liability, etc. is inherent in the field. To become a member of these professions requires extensive practical work experience in addition to a written exam.

Many students complete their work terms with their future employer where quality of work, ability to work well with customers and co-workers, and commitment are very important determinants of whether an employee is a strong addition to the company.

 
At 2/09/2009 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post professor.

You should interpose a chart of
(a) female happiness (or should I say unhappiness),
(b) childbirth,
(c) divorce,
(d) staying single.

Here is a prediction, the more education women get, the more likely they are
(a) unhappy,
(b) to have fewer children,
(c) divorced,
(d) to stay single.

P.S. Thank you feminism! :)

 
At 2/09/2009 6:16 PM, Blogger QT said...

Anon,

The tradeoff between marriage and education was certainly the case back in the 1980s however increasingly educated women are opting for both.

The access to education and increasing career opportunities for women have largely rendered the feminist movement an anachronism.

There are other possible predictions ie. the more educated women become, the more empowered they will become and the less likely they will engage in:
1. blaming
2. put downs
3. passive agressive communication
4. verbal abuse

They might actually become a treat to be around. Happy valentine! :)

 
At 2/09/2009 7:30 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

Not mentioned in the statistics is the fact that black men are much, much less educated than black woman. Our black society is effectively a matriarchy because the women are the educated bread-winners who hold the families together.

Boys are continually discriminated against in public schools. Women soon will be far better educated than men. How long before our entire society becomes matriarchal? And will we be better or worse off?

 
At 2/09/2009 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could just be that the guys are ahead of the curve. While there is no doubt that a degree is very desirable in many situations, I can't help feeling that higher ed has become an industry with its own agenda and is not necessarily serving the public very well.

As far as society being better off or not with women running the show, I have a sense that a great many guys are basically switching off. A lot of young guys no longer find women very 'attractive' and are (sort of) content to do their own thing. The number of guys I know who don't have a 'career' and let their wives earn the money is astounding! They have realized that for most, a career is no great thing and if women want a career, well let them. The whole social system is basically inverting. Good or bad - who knows? It will probably switch back again after the girls make a hash of it.

 
At 2/09/2009 10:53 PM, Blogger QT said...

Anyone can make a hash of it. Mistakes are not confined to any particular sex or demographic.

The trend of men not seeking higher education would certainly seem to be an area of concern however, one wonders whether it is a problem that should be addressed by public policy.

 
At 2/10/2009 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trend of men not seeking higher education would certainly seem to be an area of concern however, one wonders whether it is a problem that should be addressed by public policy.

Funny, when women were not "seeking higher education" women insisted that it be addressed by public policy.

Liberal arts degrees are becoming increasingly worthless. What they really represent is miseducation. I don't know of any company our organization that is served by hiring someone steeped in marxist dogma.

 
At 2/10/2009 10:51 AM, Blogger QT said...

Anon,

I agree. Women certainly did insist on public policy being directed to address what they perceived as a "crisis". Such policies if they are still in place should definitely be discontinued. It is well to remember that the GI bill after WWII did the same thing for men returning from active duty.

The charts do not tell us precisely why there is this discrepancy in achievement.

Have to agree that most liberal arts graduates are taught Karl Marx but not taught anything about Russian history or how these dumb ideas enslaved a nation and killed millions. Also agree that a liberal arts degree does not qualify one to do more than make conversation at a cocktail party.

It is usually women who take liberal arts courses (ie. psy, eng, his, soc, advanced basket weaving, etc.) while men are more likely to take econ, bus, eng, accounting. Mark had a post on this several months ago.

As someone with a liberal arts degree, I accept that the choice was mine and the responsibility for my career rests with me not the state (wouldn't that be marxism? ;-) )

 
At 2/10/2009 11:59 AM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Re:

The model is the CPA exam that qualifies certified public accountants.


If this is aush a great model, why is it that you need the degree plus experience before you can even take the CPA exam?

 
At 2/10/2009 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the idea is to open up the process and allow anyone to take the exams. That would allow people to acquire the necessary knowledge in their own way and at their own pace. It would also present an objective measure of achievement.

 
At 2/10/2009 1:06 PM, Blogger QT said...

Anon,

Wouldn't that move you away from using the CPA model? Isn't the whole point that the candidate has to go through years of taking courses, practical study as well as professional examinations to qualify for a professional designation?

The idea that a degree should be a qualification is very appealing but a BA cannot be compared to the CPA process which usually takes about 7 years of someone's life. This kind of approach only works on certain types of occupations which tend to be methodical, rule based, and highly static in nature. While tax rules may change, the basic methods of application remain the same.

A BA is not a destination but the starting point which helps students to learn critical thinking, and identify their abilities and what careers they wish to pursue. Setting career and life goals comes down to the individual and their level of motivation.

Usually, an individual demonstrates their abilities through their work experience...ie. the ability to communicate effectively, direct the work of others, meet deadlines, set and achieve goals, create budgets, monitor progress and metrics, motivate staff, visioning, working well on a team, ability to negotiate, etc.

A course of study demonstrates academic and intellectual prowess but it doesn't tell you whether an employee has the ability to manage staff or fit into a team. From that standpoint, it does not tell you what you need to know to determine whether an employee is the right fit in a particular job or workplace.

 
At 2/11/2009 11:25 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Our black society is effectively a matriarchy because the women are the educated bread-winners who hold the families together.

Not very well according to the marriage statistics...

:-/

 
At 2/11/2009 11:29 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> the more empowered they will become and the less likely they will engage in:

BWAAAAhahahahhahhahaaaaaaa!!!

Sorry, QT -- you confuse "education" with "accepting responsibility".

They ain't the same, by a large measure.

If there is one thing ALL women today have never been taught, it's the notion of personal responsibility.

The ones who have learned it (including, from what I've seen, probably you) are few and very far between.

(Men don't get taught it directly, either, but the social support network tends to provide it as an unintended secondary experience)

 
At 2/11/2009 11:36 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Isn't the whole point that the candidate has to go through years of taking courses, practical study as well as professional examinations to qualify for a professional designation?

QT, until fairly recently, you did not need to actually prove jack to hang out a shingle.

You wanted to practice law, you could nominally hang out "Joe Blow, Attorney at law" and do so.

You wanted to run a pharmacy shop, you put up a sign that said "Joe Blow, Apothecary".

I'm not advocating a return to that model, but, one would suspect that there are a lot of professions one might be capable of attaining proficiency in by an apprenticeship and self-study, followed by a demonstratory exam, just as readily as a half-decade and more of "college", large chunks of which are spent sitting in classrooms while lefty idiots spout ignorant marxist crap at you to regurgitate back at exam time.

 
At 2/13/2009 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the G.I. bill is what made diplomas the law of the land. before that, you'll read that many useful careerists only had high school diplomas.

not to be racist, but i'm sure there'd be utility in seeing the breakdown on race.

Dr. T may have a point in that the math exams in Britain have changed such that females now do better at them. (more points for consistency instead of the final answer per question.)

 

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