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. 

  • 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 bachelor’s degrees in psychology, biological sciences, and social sciences, but they earn only 24% in engineering, 21% in computer science, and 24% in physics.   
  • The number of S&E degrees earned by women between 2011 and 2020 increased by 63% at the associate’s level, 34% at the bachelor’s level, 45% at the master’s degree level, and 18% at the doctorate level. In 2020, women earned 66% of bachelor’s, 67% of master’s, and 60% of doctoral degrees in the social and behavioral sciences, but were underrepresented among degree recipients at all degree levels in physical and earth sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and engineering.
  • 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.  

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). 2023. Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities 2023. Special Report NSF 23-315. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at

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