Women Earned Majority of American Doctoral Degrees for 8th Straight Year

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In the continuation of an eight-year trend, American women earned far more doctoral degrees than men in 2016.

In 2016, there were 135 women enrolled in graduate school for every 100 men. Women earned 400 master’s degrees in health sciences majors for every 100 men. According to a December 2016 New York Times report, there are now more women in law school than men.

“If we accept the results […] the gender-industry gap is focused on the wrong thing,” George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok argued in response to these developments in higher education. “The real gender gap is that men are having trouble competing everywhere except in STEM.”

Writing for the American Enterprise Institute Blog, economist Mark Perry argues that men became the “second sex” in higher education in 2009:

For the eighth year in a row, women earned a majority of doctoral degrees awarded at US universities in 2016. Of the 78,744 doctoral degrees awarded in 2016 (Table B.25), women earned 40,407 of those degrees and 52.1% of the total, compared to 37,145 degrees awarded to men who earned 47.9% of the total (see top chart above). Women have now earned a majority of doctoral degrees in each academic year since 2009. Previously, women started earning a majority of associate’s degrees for the first time in 1978, a majority of master’s degrees in 1981, and a majority of bachelor’s degrees in 1982 according to the Department of Education. Therefore, 2009 marked the year when men officially became the “second sex” in higher education by earning a minority of college degrees at all college levels from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees.

Perry ended his post by posing a question to feminists who believe that gender disparity in certain academic fields is exclusively the result of discrimination:

If America’s diversity worshipers see any female under-representation as a problem and possibly even as proof of gender discrimination, what do they propose should be done about female over-representation in higher education at every level and in 7 out of 11 graduate fields? After all, to be logically consistent, aren’t female over-representation and female under-representation simply different sides of gender injustice?


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