STEM Statistics: Higher Education

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The rates of science and engineering course taking for young women shift at the undergraduate level and gender disparities begin to emerge. 

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2021. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2021. Special Report NSF 21-321. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/wmpd 

  • Since the late 1990s, women have earned about 57% of all bachelor’s degrees and half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. However, women’s participation in science and engineering at the undergraduate level significantly differs by specific field of study. Women earn a majority of of bachelor’s degrees in psychology, biological sciences, and social sciences, but they earn only 22% in engineering, 20% in computer science, and 21% in physics.  

  • In 2018, 13.9% of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, 12.8% of master’s degrees in science and engineering, and 7.6% of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women. 

  • In 2018, women from underrepresented minority groups earned more than half of the science and engineering degrees awarded to their respective racial and ethnic groups at all degree levels—bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. Underrepresented minority women have increasing and strong shares of bachelor’s degrees in psychology, social sciences, and biological sciences. Representation in these fields by underrepresented minority women is increasing and is near or above their representation in the labor force.  

 

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