Authors: Andrew Gillen and Courtney Tanenbaum, senior researchers in the education program at the American Institutes for Research
Organization: American Institutes for Research
Summary: Men are overrepresented in about three-quarters of academic fields, and women are overrepresented in about one-quarter, according a paper from the American Institutes for Research that examines gender imbalances in fields in which Ph.D.'s are awarded.
The researchers examined gender balances in 135 academic fields: 55 in the so-called STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and 80 non-STEM fields. They determined overrepresentation by comparing whether the gender breakdown of doctoral-degree recipients in a particular field was more skewed than the gender makeup of bachelor’s-degree recipients in that field.
The paper says that the STEM-related fields were slightly less likely than other fields to have an underrepresentation of women with Ph.D.'s.
Among the 55 STEM-related fields, men were overrepresented in 74.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 25.5 percent. Among the other 80 fields, men were overrepresented in 77.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 22.5 percent.
“There is a considerable loss of female candidates between the bachelor’s and doctoral degrees,” Mr. Gillen said in a news release about the findings. “If we want gender equity at the doctoral level, efforts need to be made earlier in students’ academic pathways and sustained throughout their doctoral education.”
Following are the top five fields in which men are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
- Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
- Missions/Missionary Studies and Missiology
- Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences, General
- Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods
Following are the top five fields in which women are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
- Forestry (Non-STEM)
- Slavic, Baltic, and Albanian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
- Forestry (STEM)
- Fine and Studio Arts
- Information Science/Studies
Bottom Line: Men are overrepresented in about three-quarters of the fields studied, while women are overrepresented in about one-quarter. Out of the 135 fields analyzed, women were slightly less likely to be underrepresented in STEM fields.