College Degrees By Gender
The table above shows the share of colleges degrees (Bachelor's, Master's and Doctor's) by gender for the 2006-2007 academic year (data here). Women earned a majority of both Bachelor's and Master's degree, and outnumbered men in nine out of 17 academic areas by a wide margin, the lowest share being 60.2% of all degrees in biology to a high of 86% of all degrees in health professions. Men outnumbered women in six fields (agriculture, architecture, business, math, physical sciences and social sciences) by a fairly narrow margin, with shares ranging between 50.8% of business degrees and 59.1% of degrees in the physical sciences. In two other subject areas (computer science and engineering), men earned more than 80% of the degrees.
For total doctoral degrees, the shares for women (49.1%) and men (50.9%) are almost equal, and women earn more than 50% of the degrees in 8 fields; men more than 50% of the degrees in 9 fields. Also, for the undergraduate subject areas that women dominate (biology, communication, education, English, foreign languages, health professions, psychology, and public administration) they also tend to dominate for Master's degrees, with just a slight drop in their share of degrees by only about a percent in some fields (biology, education, English). In some cases the female share of degrees actually increases at the Master's level (communication, foreign languages, and psychology). However, at the doctoral level, the female share of degrees tends to drop by between 5 and 10 percentage points compared to their share of Master's degrees for the same field.
Given the fact that men (mean = 534 points in 2009) continue to score higher on the SAT math test by about 35 points compared to women (mean = 499 points), the overrepresentation of men earning undergraduate degrees in computer science and engineering might not be too surprising. And the fact that women score about 13 points higher on the SAT writing test compared to men (499 vs. 486 for mean scores), the overrepresentation of women in fields like English, communication, and foreign languages might not be too surprising. And probably what would be most surprising would be perfect gender equity in each academic field, although that seems to be the desired outcome for some.