The Number of U.S. Women Earning Doctorates Dropped for the Third Year in a Row

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 55,283 doctorates in 2020, down just slightly from 2019. Of these, 25,392, or 45.9 percent, were earned by women.

If we restrict the data to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of this country, we find that 17,709 women earned doctorates in 2020. This was 51.3 percent of all doctoral recipients among U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The number of U.S. women earning doctorates dropped for the third straight year. But the number of U.S. men earning doctorates dropped at a slightly higher rate.

In 2020, there was a wide gender disparity in doctoral awards in specific disciplines. For example, women earned 69.1 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded in education, 65.7 percent of all doctorates in the health sciences, and 59.9 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 24.8 percent of the doctorates awarded in 2020. In mathematics and computer science, women earned just under a quarter of all doctorates awarded in 2020.


Filed Under: Degree AttainmentsResearch/Study

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