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News Release 99-002

Women, Minorites Make Huge S&E Education Gains, But Are Still Underrepresented Overall

January 21, 1999

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The number of women and underrepresented minority group members earning baccalaureate to doctoral degrees in Science and Engineering (S&E) fields rose as much as 68 percent from 1985 and 1995, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Science Resources Studies (SRS) Data Brief.

Yet despite these huge gains, their representation in S&E higher education remained below their representation in the U.S. population of 18- to 30-year-olds.

The number of women receiving S&E bachelor's degrees increased by 36 percent (from 128,871 to 175,931) between 1985 and 1995 - for 46 percent of all S&E bachelor's degrees awarded.

Over the same period, the growth in the number of underrepresented racial/ethnic minority recipients of S&E bachelor's degrees was an even more striking 62 percent--from 31,950 to 51,844--accounting for 13.5 percent of all S&E bachelor's degrees awarded in 1995 to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents, the number of women earning S&E doctoral degrees rose by 65 percent (from 4,184 to 6,892) between 1985 and 1995, and the number of underrepresented minorities rose by 68 percent, from 711 to 1,194.

In engineering, women earned only 10 percent of all doctorates in 1995--while underrepresented minority men earned about 4 percent, and underrepresented minority women earned less than one percent. Psychology was the only S&E field in which more women than men earned doctorates in 1995.

In 1995, women were 50 percent of the U.S. 18- to 30-year-old population; African Americans were 14 percent; Hispanics 13 percent; and Native Americans were 0.8 percent. Women earned, respectively, 46 and 36 percent of all S&E bachelor's degrees and doctorates in 1995; African Americans, 7 and 3 percent; Hispanics, 6 and 3 percent; and Native Americans, 0.6 and 0.4 percent.

The exception among minority groups (U.S. citizens and permanent residents only) was Asians, who accounted for 4 percent of the U.S. 18- to 30-year-old population, but earned 8 percent of all S&E bachelor's degrees and 19 percent of all S&E doctorates in 1995.

As was the case with undergraduate S&E enrollment, graduate student enrollment in S&E grew over this period, with the 18 percent increase due mostly to the higher participation of women and minorities.

Women S&E graduate students increased by 45 percent (to 41 percent of all graduate S&E enrollment of U.S. citizens and permanent residents); Hispanics by 64 percent (to slightly over 4 percent); Native Americans by 100 percent (to 0.5 of the total).

The Data Brief is available at:

More detailed data on these topics will be included in an upcoming National Science Foundation Science Resources Studies report, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 1998.


Media Contacts
Joel Blumenthal, NSF, (703) 292-8480, email:

Program Contacts
Joan S. Burrelli, NSF, (703) 292-8774, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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