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Posted at 10:01 AM ET, 05/29/2010

Gender gap in higher education growing -- report

By Valerie Strauss

In less than a decade women will account for 59 percent of total undergraduate enrollment and 61 percent of graduate enrollment at the country’s colleges and universities and already have a dominant presence at every degree level, a new government report shows.

But women still remain severely underrepresented in certain fields, the report shows, and young adult males still have higher median earnings than young adult females with the same levels of education at every degree level.

The data is part of the 2010 Condition of Education, an annual report released this week by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics which included a special analysis on high-poverty schools. Among the findings: One in six public school students attend high-poverty schools. You can read more on that part of the report here.

According to the report, undergraduate enrollment grew by 24 percent from 2000 to 2008 (the last year for which information is available). During this period, male enrollment grew 22 percent, while female enrollment grew 26 percent.

In 2008, females already accounted for 57 percent of enrollment, and males, 43 percent. By 2019, females are expected to account for 59 percent of total undergraduate enrollment.

Undergraduate enrollment in public institutions increased 19 percent from 2000 to 2008. Private institutions experienced a higher rate of growth over this time period, 4 percent increase, with most of the growth in private enrollment was among for-profit institutions.

The report shows that between the 1997-98 and 2007-8 academic years, the number of women earning college degrees rose:

*Doctorates, by 68 percent
*First-time professional degrees, by nearly 35 percent
*Master’s degrees, by 54 percent.

And by 2008, women accounted for:

*62 percent of all associate degrees being awarded
*57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees being awarded
*61 percent of all master’s degrees being awarded
*51 percent of all doctorates being awarded

Gender differences are greater in certain minority populations. Among black students, women earned:

*69 percent of associate degrees being awarded
*66 percent of bachelor’s degrees being awarded
*72 percent of master’s degrees being awarded
*66 percent of doctoral degrees being awarded.

Yet, women still don’t earn as much as men, even with the same education.

The report showed that at every degree level, young adult males had higher median earnings in 2008 than young adult females with the same levels of education.

For example, males with a bachelor’s degree on average earned $53,000 a year while women on average earned $42,000 annually. With a masters degree or higher, men earned an average of $65,000 annually, while women earned on average $51,000 a year. Males with a high school diploma or equivalent earned on average $32,000 annually; women, $25,000 annually.

And women still remain severely underrepresented in certain fields, the report shows. For example, by the 2007-08 school year, women earned:

*17 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and engineering technologies.
*18 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer and information sciences and support services, down from 27 percent 10 years earlier.

The Chronicle of Higher Education quoted William R. Doyle, an assistant professor of higher education at Vanderbilt University who has studied sex-based differences in educational attainment, as saying that women’s lower earnings compared with those of equally educated men helps explain why women are progressing further through the education system.

"We have known for a long time that the amount of education people pursue is driven in some part by the labor market," he was quoted as saying. "For women, if you want to get a decent job and decent earnings, the state of the labor market is such that you are going to need to pursue a couple of extra years of education."


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By Valerie Strauss  | May 29, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Higher Education, Research  | Tags:  condition of education, condition of education 2010, female enrollment, female enrollment in higher education, gender and enrollment, higher education, male attainment and college, male enrollment, male enrollment in college, participation in higher education by gender, women and higher education  
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Women make up only 51 percent of the population, but 59 percent of college undergraduates, and 61 percent of graduate students.

Why are men UNDER represented at both the undergraduate and graduate level?

Posted by: rlguenther | May 31, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's also consider that people have different interests, some of which may be gender based, allowing for the "under-representation" of women (or men) in some areas.

Please - having equal opportunity doesn't mean needing to have a 50-50 split in everything mean and women do.

Posted by: efavorite | May 31, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

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