U.S. Women Earn a Majority of All Doctoral Degree Awards But a Huge Gender Gap Persists in STEM Fields

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 54,641 doctorates in 2017. Of these, 25,495, or 46.7 percent, were earned by women. This is up slightly over the past two years

If we restrict the data to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of this country we find that 18,203 women earned doctorates in 2017. This is nearly 50.9 percent of all doctoral recipients among U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The number of American women earning doctoral degrees has increased 13.3 percent over the past decade.

In 2017, there was a wide gender disparity in doctoral awards in specific disciplines. For example, women earned 68.7 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded in education and 58.3 percent of all doctorates in psychology and the social sciences. In contrast, women earned less than a third of the doctorates in the physical sciences and less than a quarter of all doctorates in mathematics and computer science. In engineering, women earned 22.3 percent of the 8,452 doctorates awarded in 2017.

Women have made substantial progress in doctoral degree awards in the life sciences. Three decades ago in 1987, women earned about 35 percent of all doctoral degrees in the life sciences. In 2017, the figure was 55.3 percent.

Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsGender GapResearch/Study

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