Women Lose Ground at Bachelor’s Level, Gain Ground at the Doctoral Level
HERNDON, VA, JAN. 27, 2015 – In the first national-level view of science and engineering degrees awarded in 2013-14, including advanced degrees, the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ found that from 2004 to 2014, the prevalence of science and engineering (S&E) degrees increased for both genders, driven by growth in the so-called “hard sciences.” Results of the Research Center’s latest Snapshot Report vary considerably by discipline and degree level. The disciplines covered include engineering; computer science; earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; physical sciences; mathematics; biological and agricultural sciences; and social sciences and psychology.
Since 2004, the percentage of all bachelor’s degrees accounted for by S&E fields increased two percentage points for men, one for women. At the master’s level, the share of S&E degrees increased one percentage point for men, and remained nearly flat for women. At the doctoral level, social sciences and psychology decreased in prevalence, while the other S&E disciplines increased. S&E “hard sciences” now account for 48 percent of all doctoral degrees earned by men, up from 45 percent in 2004. In each of the last 10 years, women earned a smaller share of S&E degrees at higher degree levels. In 2014, women earned 49 percent of all S&E bachelor’s degrees, 43 percent of S&E master’s degrees, and 40 percent of S&E doctoral degrees.
Women made the largest gains at the doctoral level. The share of doctoral degrees earned by women increased in five of the seven disciplines examined, with gains of at least four percentage points in four disciplines. However, women lost ground at the bachelor’s level, where the share of degrees earned by women decreased in all seven disciplines, including a five percentage point drop in computer sciences. In all years studied, women earned the majority of bachelor’s degrees in biological and agricultural sciences and social sciences and psychology.
“This data demonstrates the importance of tracking science and engineering degree attainment at different levels and within specific fields of study,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Both men and women are increasingly choosing STEM degrees, particularly in the hard sciences. But in terms of the shares of degrees earned within individual disciplines, women are gaining ground in some STEM areas, while losing ground in others.”
About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.
To learn more, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.