In 1991, almost 5.6 million students were enrolled in 2-year institutions, almost 2.1 million of these as full-time students. The number of both men and women enrolled as full-time students at 2-year and
community colleges increased considerably over the last decade, with the enrollment of women increasing more rapidly. The number of men increased between 1980 and 1991 by 13 percent. The number of women was up 30 percent in the same period. (See
Associate's degrees offer one measure of completion for courses of study during the first 2 years of undergraduate education. While all higher education institutions may award associate's degrees, they can
be examined in conjunction with characteristics of 2-year colleges.
Over the decade, both the total number of students enrolled as first-time first-year students and the number of students in this group enrolled full time have declined. In 1980, 1.4 millon of the
students enrolled at 2-year schools were first-time first-year students. By 1991, the number had dropped to 1.1 million, a decline of 16 percent. It should be noted that the majority of the decline was in white and black students; most other
racial/ethnic groups' enrollment increased. The percentage decline of the total full-time first-time students, including all races and ethnicities, was much smaller, nearly 4 percent. (See appendix table 4-3.)
Women have been more likely to be enrolled as first-time first-year students than men. In 1991 as in 1980, approximately 53 percent of the students enrolled as first-time first-year students were
women, and they accounted for just over 50 percent of full-time, first-time, first-year students.
The total number of associate's degrees earned by women increased over the decade, from 230,758 in 1981 (55 percent of the total awarded) to 286,254 in 1991, almost 59 percent of the total. (See
appendix tables 4-4, 4-5 and 4-6.) The number of associate's degrees earned by women in all fields of science and engineering declined by 15
percent, from 18,751 in 1981 to 15,950 in 1991, just under 25 percent of all science and engineering associate's degrees. (See appendix table 4-6.)
The trends for black women followed the trends for women as a whole in 2-year institutions: Although the total number of associate's degrees earned by black women increased during this time, the number
of science and engineering associate's degrees they earned dropped 32 percent during the decade.
The number of Hispanic women earning associate's degrees in science and engineering remained almost level, although the number of Hispanic women receiving associate's degrees in all fields increased 40
percent, reaching 17,317 in 1991.
Although the numbers were small, American Indian women increased the number of associate's degrees they earned in science and engineering during the decade by 62 percent, from 150 to 243. The overall
number of American Indian women receiving associate's degrees increased 40 percent.
The number of Asian women receiving a science and engineering associate's degree was up by a similar margin, growing 59 percent during the decade, from 355 to 566. The overall number of Asian women
receiving associate's degrees increased 93 percent.