Field of degree: Women



Women have earned 57% of all bachelor's degrees and about half of all science and engineering (S&E) bachelor's degrees since the late 1990s. However, women's level of participation in S&E fields varies, and within fields it tends to be consistent over every degree level. In most fields, the proportion of degrees awarded to women has risen since 1993. The proportion of women is lowest in engineering, computer sciences, and physics. Women earn about one-third of the doctorates in economics and slightly more than one-fourth of doctorates in mathematics and statistics.

Thumbnail of chart showing High participation fields for women: Biosciences and social sciences, 1993-2012. Thumbnail of chart showing Low participation field for women: Engineering, 1993, 2002, 2012. Thumbnail of chart showing Low participation field for women: Computer sciences, 1993, 2002, 2012. Thumbnail of chart showing Low participation field for women: Mathematics and statistics, 1993, 2002, 2012. Thumbnail of chart showing Low participation field for women: Physics, 1993, 2002, 2012. Thumbnail of chart showing Low participation field for women: Economics, 1993, 2002, 2012.

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High participation fields for women: Biosciences and social sciences, 1993–2012
NOTE: Data not available for 1999.

Psychology, biosciences, and social sciences

Women's participation in S&E fields is highest in psychology, where women account for 70% or more of the graduates at each degree level. Women's participation is also relatively high in biosciences and social sciences (except for economics). Since 1993, the proportion of women in biosciences and social sciences has increased to between 49% and 58%, depending on the field and degree level.

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Low participation field for women: Engineering, 1993, 2002, 2012

Engineering

Although the number of women earning degrees in engineering has increased in the past 20 years, women's participation remains well below that of men at all degree levels and in all fine fields of engineering. Since 1993, the proportion of women in engineering has increased at all degree levels, but mostly at the master's and doctoral levels. In general, women earn larger proportions of degrees in chemical, materials, industrial, and civil engineering than in aerospace, electrical, and mechanical engineering.

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Low participation field for women: Computer sciences, 1993, 2002, 2012

Computer sciences

The proportion of women in computer sciences is highest at the master's level. Since 1993, the number of women in computer sciences has risen at all degree levels. Although the proportion of women with degrees in computer sciences has increased considerably at the doctoral level, it has declined at the bachelor's level.

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Low participation field for women: Mathematics and statistics, 1993, 2002, 2012

Mathematics and statistics

Women's share of degrees in mathematics and statistics remains below that of men, particularly at the doctoral level. Women's representation in mathematics and statistics is higher at the bachelor's and master's levels, reaching approximately 40%—about double that of women in engineering and computer sciences at all degree levels. Despite increases in the numbers of women earning degrees in mathematics and statistics since 2002, the proportion of women has declined, particularly at the bachelor's level.

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Low participation field for women: Physics, 1993, 2002, 2012

Physics

Despite increases in the number of women earning degrees in physics, the proportion of women in this field, averaging about 20% across all degree levels, is the lowest of all the physical sciences. In the past 20 years, the proportion of women earning degrees in physics increased more at the doctoral level than at the bachelor's and master's levels, but the numbers of women in this field remain very small.

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Low participation field for women: Economics, 1993, 2002, 2012

Economics

Within the social sciences, women's participation is lowest in economics. In the past two decades, the number of women earning degrees in economics has increased at all degree levels. Despite the increase in numbers, over the past decade the proportion of degrees in economics awarded to women declined at the bachelor's level and remained flat at the master's level. Women's share of degrees in economics increased at the doctoral level.

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