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Science and Engineering Degrees Inch Up, but Progress for Women Is Mixed

Report: Snapshot Report

Organization: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

Summary: The past decade has seen a slight uptick in the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the so-called STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women lost ground to men at the bachelor’s level, while gaining at the doctoral level.

Among the specific findings:

  • Since 2004 the percentage of all bachelor’s degrees earned in STEM fields inched up two percentage points for men and one for women.
  • At the master’s level, men had a 1-percent increase while women remained the same.
  • STEM disciplines increased at the doctoral level in every area in the study except social sciences and psychology.
  • In 2014 women earned 49 percent of all STEM bachelor’s degrees, 43 percent of STEM master’s degrees, and 40 percent of STEM doctoral degrees.
  • At the bachelor’s level, the share of STEM degrees earned by women decreased in all seven disciplines studied, including a drop of five percentage points in computer sciences.
  • The reverse was true at the doctoral level, where the share of degrees earned by women increased in five of the seven disciplines studied.

Bottom Line: Efforts to steer more students into STEM fields are showing mixed results at a time when many employers insist they can’t find enough graduates with the related skills they need.

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