Education Progress

What percentage of S&E degrees do women and racial/ethnic minorities earn?

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What percentage of S&E degrees do women and racial/ethnic minorities earn?

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Notes:
The doctoral data are shown only through 2009 because a change in the types of degrees counted as doctorates makes the 2010 data not comparable to earlier years.
S&E = science and engineering. S&E includes biological/agricultural sciences, physical sciences, computer sciences, mathematics/statistics, engineering, psychology, and social sciences. Physical sciences = chemistry, physics, astronomy, and earth/ocean/atmospheric sciences.
At the doctoral level only, S&E also includes medical/other life science degrees.
Notes:
Degree data reflect U.S. citizens and permanent residents only; they do not include foreign nationals with temporary visas. Population data include all U.S. residents, regardless of citizenship status.
S&E = science and engineering. S&E includes biological/agricultural sciences, physical sciences, computer sciences, mathematics/statistics, engineering, psychology, and social sciences. Physical sciences = chemistry, physics, astronomy, and earth/ocean/atmospheric sciences.
At the doctoral level only, S&E also includes medical/other life science degrees.

Main Finding

Over the past decade, women’s share of S&E degrees increased at the master’s and doctoral levels, held steady at the bachelor’s level, and decreased at the associate’s level.

After whites, Hispanics and blacks account for the largest proportions of S&E associate’s degrees, Asians/Pacific Islanders for the largest proportions of S&E bachelor’s and doctoral degrees, and blacks and Asians/Pacific Islanders for the largest proportions of S&E master’s degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Hispanics, blacks, and American Indians/Alaska Natives are underrepresented in S&E relative to their proportions in the U.S. college-age population, while whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders are overrepresented.

Key Observations

  • By the end of the decade, women were earning 41% of S&E degrees at the associate’s level, just over 50% at the bachelor’s level, 46% at the master’s level, and 47% at the doctoral level. Relative to their 49% share of the U.S. college-age population in 2010, women are slightly overrepresented among S&E degree recipients at the bachelor’s level, but are underrepresented at the associate’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
  • Women’s share of S&E degrees grew much faster at the doctoral level than at the master’s level.
  • In 2010, Hispanics earned 14% and blacks 13% of all S&E associate’s degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
  • Asians/Pacific Islanders received 10% of the S&E bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2010, while Hispanics and blacks each accounted for approximately 9% of the degrees, with Hispanics outnumbering blacks.
  • Blacks and Asians/Pacific Islanders each received 10% of the S&E master’s degrees awarded to U.S. and permanent residents in 2010; blacks outnumbered Asians/Pacific Islanders by a small margin. Hispanics earned 7% of all S&E master’s degrees.
  • Asians/Pacific Islanders earned 10% of all S&E doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2010. Hispanics and blacks each accounted for 5% of S&E doctoral degrees, with Hispanics outnumbering blacks by a small margin.
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives received 1.5% of S&E associate’s degrees and less than 1% of S&E bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
  • Together, the three groups considered to be underrepresented in S&E (blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives) earned 28% of S&E degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2010 at the associate’s level, 18% at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, and 11% at the doctoral level. Their shares have increased at every degree level since 2000.
  • Blacks and Hispanics remain underrepresented at every degree level relative to their proportions in the U.S. college-age population (14% and 20%, respectively). American Indians/Alaska Natives are overrepresented among recipients of S&E associate’s degrees compared to their percentage of the college-age population (0.9%), but they remain underrepresented in S&E at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
  • Asians/Pacific Islanders are overrepresented at every degree level, and their shares of S&E bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are almost double their share of the college-age population (5%).
  • Whites are also overrepresented among recipients of S&E bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. At the associate’s level, whites’ share of S&E degrees is on a par with their 57% share of the college-age population.