The Gender Gap in Educational Attainment in the United States

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the extent of the gender gap in higher educational attainments in the United States. In 2018 36,674,000 living men in the United States held a four-year college degree. This is 34.6 percent of all men over the age of 25. For women, 40,251,000 individuals held a four-year college degree. This was 35.3 percent of all women over the age of 25.

Women hold a large lead in master’s degrees. In 2018, 11,831,000 women held a master’s degree but no higher credential. For men, the figure was 9,217,000. Thus, 10.4 percent of adult women but only 8.7 percent of adult men held a master’s degree but no higher degree.

Despite the fact that in recent years women have earned more professional degrees and doctorates than men, for all living adults, men still hold an overall lead over women in degree attainment at these levels. In 2018, 1,780,000 men and 1,393,000 women held professional degrees. That year, there were 2,597,000 adult men who had earned a doctorate compared to 1,872,000 women.

For those who are interested, the Census Bureau statistics for men and women are also broken down by marital status, citizenship, nativity, labor force status, occupation, and other characteristics.

The data tables from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2018, may be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsResearch/Study

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  1. […] Unsurprisingly, this year is no different. For reference, the World Economic Forum (WEF) annually releases the Global Gender Report, a document that contains an index that ranks countries based on a calculated estimate of gender gaps between men and women. According to the Global Gender Report 2020, based on the categories of health, education, politics, and economy, the United States now ranks 53rd out of a catalogued 153 countries. This isn’t exactly a surprising development, considering that the United States has descended in its ranking for gender equality over the past decade. In the Global Gender Gap 2010, the United States was ranked 19th in the world for gender equality, with particular accomplishments in terms of educational attainment (presently, women are more likely to enroll in college than men). […]

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