The Gender Gap in Doctoral Degree Awards

The National Science Foundation recently released its annual data on doctoral degree recipients in the United States. Data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that universities in the United States conferred 55,006 doctorates in 2015. Of these, 25,403, or 46.2 percent, were earned by women. This is up from 46.1 percent a year ago.

If we restrict the data to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of this country we find that 17,872 women earned doctorates. This is nearly 51 percent of all doctoral recipients among U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

The number of American women earning doctoral degrees has increased 24.5 percent over the past decade. For men in the United States, the number of doctoral degree earners has increased by nearly 27 percent since 2005.

In 2015, there was a wide gender disparity in doctoral awards in specific disciplines. For example, women earned 68.4 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded in education and 58.6 percent of all doctorates in psychology and the social sciences. In contrast, women earned only a third of the doctorates in the physical sciences. In engineering, women earned 23 percent of the 9,897 doctorates awarded in 2015.

Women have made substantial progress in doctoral degree awards in the life sciences. Two decades ago, women earned about 42 percent of all doctoral degrees in the life sciences. In 2015, the figure was 55.4 percent.

Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsResearch/Study

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