Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Women Now Dominate Higher Education at Every Degree Level; The Female-Male Degree Gap Grows

It's college graduation season, and according to data available from the U.S. Department of Education, an estimated 3,092,800 degrees will be granted this academic year (2008-2009) for Associate's degrees (714,000), Bachelor's degrees (1,585,000), Master's degrees (647,000), Professional degrees for MD, DDS and JD (91,000) and Doctor's degrees for Ph.D and Ed.D (55,800).

Of the more than 3 million college degrees for the Class of 2009, women will earn close to 60% of those degrees (1,849,200), or almost 149 degrees for every 100 degrees earned by men.

And it's now official: Women dominate men at every level of higher education, in terms of degrees conferred. Here's the breakdown for graduates of the class of 2009:

Associate's Degrees: 167 for women for every 100 for men.

Bachelor's Degrees: 142 for women for every 100 for men.

Master's Degrees: 159 for women for every 100 for men.

Professional Degrees: 104 for women for every 100 for men.

Doctoral Degrees: 107 for women for every 100 for men.

In fact, the last time men had more degrees than women at any level was the Class of 2006, which had slightly more men than women for both Professional and Doctoral degrees. For the other levels, it hasn't been even close for decades. The last year that men earned more Master's degrees than women was 1984-1985, for Bachelor's degrees it was the Class of 1981, and for Associates degrees it was 1976-1977 when men earned more degrees than women.

For all levels of higher education, women have earned more college degrees than men in every year since the Class of 1982, and the degree gap has widened in every year since then, and is expected to widen in the future through the 2016-2017 year (see chart above).


At 6/02/2009 10:45 AM, Anonymous Αμάτι Nώνυμος said...

Multiple choice:

Who said,"Leave no sex behind!"

1. 43rd President
2. Auntie Mame

At 6/02/2009 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully we'll see some affirmative action to help distribute degrees more fairly.

At 6/02/2009 12:10 PM, Blogger Size said...

Clearly, we dumb broads really need to be politically protected because we can't do for ourselves.

At 6/02/2009 1:45 PM, Blogger Joe Armendariz said...

This is compelling data but lack an attempted explanation.

At 6/02/2009 2:15 PM, Blogger Bill said...

We need some more information here, in my opinion. For example, if 100% of the degrees in education were earned by women this might skew the overall numbers even though the representation is more even in other fields. Is any more detailed information available.

At 6/02/2009 2:41 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Like Bill, I'd like to see this data broken out by types of degrees conferred. I think we would see a very different picture. Keep in mind that colleges and universities have added a lot of new degrees to their catalogs. If you take out the oddball degrees (things you really shouldn't be awarded a degree for IMHO) and just look at the traditional degrees I bet it's a lot more even. Even then, it's a strange trend as it certainly seems that guys are on the path to being no more than manual laborers in another decade.

At 6/02/2009 5:37 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

Attempted explanation: Grade schools have been progressively anti-boy for over forty years. Schools want calm, passive, unquestioning, non-fidgety students who can sit still, pay attention, and cause no trouble for hours straight. Girls generally do that better than boys. The boys who cannot meet those standards are drugged with Ritalin or its cousins: they're less disruptive, but they don't learn as well.

Most teaching is lecture mode. Hands-on demonstrations are rare. Learning by doing a physical task is rare. Learning through actions or motions are rare. Boys often prefer these active learning modes, but they're too much work for the (mostly female) grade school teachers.

Most grade schools have no physical education. Recess is passive, because active play can lead to injuries or (even worse!) kids touching one another (tag has been banned at many schools). When moving from classroom to cafeteria or library, students must line up, walk at a steady pace, and keep quiet like good little robots.

By seventh grade a substantial percentage of boys lag behind the girls. This continues throughout school with boys now falling behind girls even in math and science classes (where boys used to do better than girls). The end result: more girls graduate, more go to college, more go to higher education, etc.

At 6/02/2009 10:47 PM, Blogger destilando cafe said...

Dr. T, from your remarks I bet you haven't seen the inside of a grade school since 1958.

At 6/03/2009 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of those classified as 'women' are lesbians or transgender?

At 6/03/2009 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great time to be an Alpha male on a college campus and act like it as well. Less competition to climb over in one's quest for gene pool dominance. Great time to be a fratboy without having to worry about a date due to your childish boorish behavior.

At 6/03/2009 9:56 AM, Anonymous Mike said...

How many of those classified as 'women' are lesbians or transgender?

Wow. The stunning insight revealed by that comment cannot possibly be overstated.

At 6/03/2009 9:56 AM, Anonymous Lady grad student said...

Dr. T, as it turns out, the workforce that requires degrees also requires calm, non-fidgety people who can sit still, pay attention, and cause no trouble for hours straight. Because of this, I see absolutely no issues with requiring children to sit still and think for a few hours a day and am boggled by the fact that you might take issue with this. That all said, I am one of those women being awarded a PhD degree (in the next few years, not this year), but mine is in engineering, and I can tell you for a fact that it is still a male dominated field. Ladies, math is cool! Be engineers! :)

At 6/03/2009 10:23 AM, Blogger Cambel said...

The fact of the matter is, in many ways women still expect to be treated as damsels in distress by men however the time for that, is passed. Equality means being treated as equals.

In line waiting to register for classes, I saw a woman repeatedly hitting her boyfriend, every time he opened his mouth. She would Tsk, roll her eyes, call him stupid...etc...

If a man had been doing this to his girlfriend, other women would have been screaming at him, men would jump in to stop it, police would have been called etc... This along with the way teachers in grade schools still labor under the anti-boy attitude brought on by a many times discredited study that says that tried to claim that girls were ignored in school has created a somtimes apathetic atmosphere for helping any males that need encouragement to move on to higher education. My point being is, numerical equality is here, it has been surpassed. All the programs in middle and high schools encouraging and assisting women should just go gender neutral. Woman are obviously out competing men for college, and in many poor urban centers for life. Time to admit that the playing field in this area is now even.

At 6/03/2009 10:24 AM, Blogger Cambel said...

" Anonymous said...
How many of those classified as 'women' are lesbians or transgender?"

Transgender numbers are incredibly small, and are you saying that lesbians should not be counted as women?

At 6/03/2009 10:27 AM, Blogger AGG said...

Think about a night club/bar offering free drinks to young women. The club wants an initially high female:male ratio.

When the f:m ratio goes high enough, young men naturally flock to it until the club has reached equilibrium.

I predict the same thing will happen with colleges. Thoughts?

At 6/03/2009 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The playing field is only even when women earn the same amount as men.

One assumes that there will be a delay for that to occur, as well as a delay for the end of the old, white, male dominance of senior faculty positions. Once that's swept away, and they can feel it coming based on the outbursts of resentment I hear in my department every day, then we'll see some real change.

At 6/03/2009 10:32 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

Dr. T is exactly right. Until maybe the 11th or 12th grade, our school system focuses on behavior, not ability. With an overwhelming percentage of female teachers in the early grades, this feminizes behavior requirements, and if they're unlucky, boys drop off along the way. I've met many intelligent men with graduate or professional degrees who the system tried to punish when they were young. That's not at all true of capable and accomplished women.

I can't believe that "lady grad student" in engineering would advocate for "calm, non-fidgety people who can sit still, pay attention, and cause no trouble for hours straight" solely because the "workforce requires it." Advances in engineering are not made by people who are cowed into submission - they're made by people who are willing to challenge conventional wisdom, even if it bothers the stuffy older men who run the industry. Or was she suggesting that sitting still and causing no trouble was appropriate for those who are not smart like her?

At 6/03/2009 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my field, there have been more women getting doctoral degrees than men for decades, but there are still far more men in faculty positions. Degrees is one step, but until hiring is equal, we're not there.

At 6/03/2009 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And just how are we to effect this magical learning environment that caters to different 'learning styles' and will suddenly reveal previously unrevealed ability? I fail to understand how a hands-on demonstration of reading will come about.

Besides, it's my entirely anecdotal observation that more women fidget in college classes through incessant texting than men.

And women still don't speak up as readily or easily as men do, which is a shame, because they outperform them otherwise.

At 6/03/2009 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is really all that shocking. More and more people have access to classes through online access and community college degree extension courses. I subscribe to the theory that the absolute smartest and dumbest people in the world are men, on average. Women on a whole are more moderate and dominate the middle ground of intelligence. I'm not suggesting that there are not very smart or very dumb women in the USA, obviously, that is not true, but the genius and moron categories seem to be dominated by men. College degrees, particularly in many of today's weak colleges, do not require genius intellect, so those people in the middle, to middle upper tiers of intelligence who work hard attain the most degrees. Is this sexist? Not really. In the future I think we will see companies dominated by women VP's and Dept heads, but the R and D guys as well as many CEO's will remain male. Oh, and the janitors too.

At 6/03/2009 11:27 AM, Blogger Size said...

"The playing field is only even when women earn the same amount as men."

That will only happen when men can also give birth to children.

"Dr. T is exactly right. Until maybe the 11th or 12th grade, our school system focuses on behavior, not ability."

I agree. As far as I can tell schools focus only on behaviour and social indoctrination. A friend's child (female, as it happens) goes to what is widely considered a very good New York City public school. The class read a story in which one of the characters is a rich man. During the discussing period the teacher described the rich man as "greedy and evil". My friend's kid asked why she would say that since the author didn't describe him that way and his actions in the story didn't imply that either. The teacher answered that he must be greedy and a cheat because he's rich. The eleven year old child replied that a person's wealth is a reflection of the value others put on what he produces and if he is evil and greedy because he's rich, does that mean that all poor people are good and selfless? The teacher told her that she's to young to understand and to sit down and be quiet. In addition to teachers so dumb they are mentally outmaneuvered by their ELEVEN year old students, they are taught nothing else.

Books that are brought from home and deemed above the child's grade level are routinely confiscated. "They're too young to comprehend these themes" is the excuse. Math is so dumbed down that it's impossible to learn it at all. I used to teach high school algebra and I couldn't understand the crap arithmetic they were cramming down these kids' throats. Parents who care send their children to private math tutors to learn math.

And this is PS6 - a school people move to a very expensive part of Manhattan to get their kids into.

At 6/03/2009 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How shocking that the capitalist system that you all so revere would indeed mold your precious children into mindless automatons.

The real offense is that they are being prepared for manufacturing jobs, the opportunity for which, as far as I can tell, occur now only in the Inland South due to cheap labor (no labor unions), shoddy enforcement of regulations, and little or no taxes.

Or a life doomed to residence in a cubicle. Take your pick. All because Johnny can sit still.

At 6/03/2009 11:37 AM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

Numbers are available by subject area on the Dept of Education web site. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/2008menu_tables.asp

(If this URL got cut off, you can get there by going to http://nces.ed.gov and then clicking on Tables & Figures, and then locating a link to the Digest of Education Statistics in the right side, and choosing a year.)

Once you're on that page, look in the Postsecondary Education / Degree-granting Institutions / Degrees section.

You'll find that women are still *significantly* underrepresented in physical sciences, math, and engineering.

At 6/03/2009 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very important development. And not only are women the majority at all levels of higher education, it is also true for every different ethnic or racial group as well. Across the board. The gap between African American men and women is particularly large. Black women go to college, black men go to prison. (An exaggeration, but not that much.)

At 6/03/2009 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

equal pay and equal proportions in top positions are not bad or unrealistic ideals. Certainly there is still some overt and plenty of passive sexism.

But there are also legitimate reasons that explain a portion of the pay differentials between the sexes. The hardest one for women to overcome is having a family. As long as the cultural tendency is for women to take time off to have children and interrupt her tenure and progress then she may have a lower wage than a man with total equivalent experience whose labor market time has been continuous.

My dissertation advisor is brilliant and works very, very hard. But she literally has fewer hours in the day that she devotes to her research because of her children. Ergo, she is still not a full professor.

At 6/03/2009 2:26 PM, Blogger steve said...

I think the admittedly exaggerated point made above does demonstrate a fault in the current education system--as well as the societal norms which accompany it. Particularly in African-American communities, but stretching across most demographics, boys are much more likely to label doing well in school as a stigma. Being called a nerd, geek, or dork probably wouldn't bother you very much, but if you were a 12 year old boy it might be different (a point I'm a little shocked ladygrad didn't grasp, despite her impending PhD). Look around the average high school classroom and you'll see that the leading students are generally girls. I don't know the reason for this, but it would be a mistake not to recognize that such a clear trend is probably related to some factor other than the the intellectual superiority of girls. Boys are disciplined in school at a much higher rate, which would lead one to the conclusion that if the system isn't tailored to girls, they at least play it better. Once someone gets to college, he or she is more or less responsible for his or her own academic success. What needs to be considered, however, is whether or not the education system we have in place actively discourages boys before they even get to the college level.

Boys and girls are very different from one another, but are also very different from men and women. As a former (male) student who did exceptionally well in his studies but also compiled a lengthy discipline record, it was my experience that the A's went to the smartest kids, but that the A-'s by and large went to the girls who sat in the front row, took copious notes, and raised their hand for every question. I'm not saying that any of this is bad, and it seems fair that a student who works harder should do better. What bothers me is that I'm not sure most 13 year old boys would be able to do that. I don't know whether this is due to hormones, genetic differences, masculine aversion to submission, or some other combination of factors, but I don't think we need to know the cause to recognize the effect.

At 6/03/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Size said...

"As long as the cultural tendency is for women to take time off to have children and interrupt her tenure and progress then she may have a lower wage than a man with total equivalent experience whose labor market time has been continuous."

It's not an issue of cultural tendency - it's an issue of biology. Pregnant women are simply less efficient in their jobs (depending on the job, of course) due to the physical demands of pregnancy, require time to actually deliver and recover from delivery. After delivery women are the only ones who can breast feed, not to even mention the overwhelming need women experience to be with their newborns. Culture evolved around these biological realities.

What you say about experience isn't logical. If women take time off to have children, then they by definition don't have the same experience as their male counterparts. The relevant comparison is women who don't take time off from their careers and don't have children. I seem to remember research that showed the pay difference is statistically insignificant for that group, but don't quote me.

Like you, I'm a woman in a male dominated field (uber male dominated). Because it's very easy to measure how much money we make for our firms, the women in my field tend to be compensated as well as the men. Just as an anecdote, one woman in my profession left to have a baby - to the chagrin of her employer. She meant to leave permanently, but the company had to employ something like 5 or 6 people (all men, of course) to do her job. They begged her to come back and she did. This woman was NOT underpaid before or after her brief retirement.

At 6/03/2009 5:53 PM, Anonymous Leroy Walker said...


Male only schools. Where it's okay for boys to boys and Men to be Men. Nothing good comes from the feminization of boys/Men.

The future of college and the workforce?

"A high-ranking British woman doctor, Professor Carol Black, president of the Royal College of Physicians, has warned that the British medical profession is shedding the prestige in which it was once held. She ascribes the diminution of respect to the high percentage of women who have entered the profession over the past 20 years."


At 6/04/2009 9:49 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

I see a lot of comments about how the educational system is now punishing boys for "being boys". Maybe so, I went to private, one-room schools till high school and loved the individual responsibility that was given to me in that system. You had certain times of the day where you could garner the teacher's full attention, but many times you had to keep yourself busy on work or you would fall behind. I was never a rowdy kid in school, and while I'm sure that energy is a good thing at times. It can also be a bad thing when you need to focus on something for an hour. Of course I would have rather been playing at recess, but I realized that there is a time and place for everything. If boys can't learn to adapt to an information-age skill set then they will be doomed to labor forever. Men dominated historically because they excelled at the jobs that created and controlled wealth and power. Now people who can think and lead have more power. If women are better suited for those positions then why fight it simply in the name of equality for men? If this is the natural progression then there is not much that can be done without imposing un-natural and inefficient mandates.

At 6/04/2009 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. T. is only half right, I think. The other half of the equation is the value our society places on athletic ability for boys, and activities like socializing and shopping for girls. Many parents expect their sons to focus on sports, not academics, and let their sons know (overtly or otherwise) that they value athletic prowess much more than good report cards. I don't really mean to say that's exactly (or even approximately) 50% of the cause, but I definitely see it as an important factor.

At 6/04/2009 10:49 AM, Anonymous Shy Anne said...

Note to self: Don't read the comments. Don't read the comments. Don't read the comments. Don't read the comments...

At 6/05/2009 6:23 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

Shy Anne: you must be pretty thin-skinned if you're going fetal over what's written here.

At 6/06/2009 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If women get more degrees than men why do they make less?

It is because what the degrees are in. What is the starting salary of a woman studier these days? Look in a college catalog and you will see the liberal arts college bloated with degrees not worth the name. There was a protest on my campus recently because it only offered an Asian-American studies minor not a major. Whats the point?!

As long as math and science are male dominated the salary gap will remain. The can print as much worthless sheepskin at the LAS college as they want.

At 6/13/2009 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son was bullied unmercifully for being "too smart" and being not at all athletic. You want boys to shine? Work on dismantling the whole "manhood" crap. Boys can sit still just fine -- look at any 10-year-old boy with a Nintendo, or any group of boys sitting through a 2 hour movie. If they can do that, they can do classroom lecture. Besides...that's what schools have done forever, before girls were even much of a presence in schools.


At 6/18/2009 11:49 AM, Anonymous mb said...

The proverbial "elephant in the living room" is the baldfaced discrimination against boys and men in education.

For a good example, look no further than the Ann Arbor campus of Dr. Perry's institution, the University of Michigan, where they have of all things (among many other special programs and perks for women) a special "Center for the Education of Women." As if the university isn't committed to educating women on an equal basis with men. The notion is so absurd I'm beyond astonished that Mary Sue Coleman hasn't eliminated that blatantly sexist anachronistic monument to 1960s feminism out of raw shame, if for no other reason.

It is no longer plausibly deniable that sexism against men is pandemic in primary, secondary and higher education, at all levels, but especially in the student body and professional staff.

At 7/29/2009 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Explanation: Women convinced men they were being discriminated against so men helped the women. And the women left the men behind. I personally helped 3 female friends graduate college when they were discouraged. They in turn broke my trust and suddenly refused friendship anymore. No man would ever do that to another man for no reason. Women tricked their way ahead.

At 8/01/2009 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever notice how it's only "fair and equal" to women when they seem to have the lead over men at something?

A fair fight to a woman would be if she had a gun and the man she was against was unarmed. That would be "equal" in the eyes of most women.

Our society has basically handed women the guns to use while at the same time disarming men. Western societies have been doing it for years under gender/race discriminatory laws such as affirmative action and a whole plethora of other gender/race biased organizations that only fund the money to send women and minorities to schools of higher learning.

Notice how "equality" has only now become an issue to women AFTER the inventions of modern day appliances and machines that allow women to do a lot of work they couldn't have done in the past due to their lack of physical strength.

At 9/03/2009 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet we still make less than men with comparable skills and education. We do it simply because there is no other way for a woman to get ahead. Disgusting.

At 3/29/2010 2:15 AM, Anonymous computer networking training said...

Right, As the ratio said, women will dominate at all level, not only in higher education. Last Week I read news that Now Women will struggle as strength as men in US Army and Indian Army and hiring good enough!!

At 4/28/2011 12:40 PM, Blogger L. Byron said...

"You'll find that women are still *significantly* underrepresented in physical sciences, math, and engineering."

This is largely to do with the innate biological brain differences between men & women. Males in general have greater spatial awareness, as well as interest in mathematics & engineering. IBM was publicly campaigning for more women to come work for them all through the 1980's, yet women stayed away, not because of some conspiracy against them but because of personal choice & lack of interest in those fields.

Which brings us to another point: the 'pay-gap' myth was disproved decades ago. The difference in average income between the sexes (between 4 & 7 per cent now in the west) is largely due to the decisions men & women make about what work they're prepared to do. Again, this is not the result of some patriarchal conspiracy - women, after all, hold the majority of jobs in America today, yet 95% of all workplace deaths are male the world over. The great amount of overtime is also done by men. We pay men more for doing the dangerous jobs that women don't want to do, (coal-mining, construction, lumberjack etc) & for working hours that women don't want to (graveyard shifts, 2am taxi-drivers etc). Men are also more likely to commute long distances & work outdoors in inclement conditions. Because fewer people (men OR women) want to do these jobs they pay higher. Simple supply & demand.

Besides all that, recent studies have reported that in the younger 20-30 age group, what pay-gap there is left is there reversed, with women out-earning their male contemporaries.

At 4/28/2011 6:05 PM, Blogger Strong Man said...

Thank you for this graph and this post. I've linked to it because I found it powerful.

I'll be interested to investigate further which kinds of degrees are granted by gender.

So, if men aren't going to college, what are they doing instead? Starting businesses and becoming managers? flipping burgers? What? Do you have any data on that?

At 9/10/2012 7:59 AM, Blogger Stephen P Brown said...

Why is anyone surprised? As higher ed morphs into structure and courses designed by and pandering to the female mind (GENERALLY more inclined towards reading and writing) and less towards physical application (GENERALLY using one's hands), who is more likely to be attracted to higher ed and do well in it?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home