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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women earned more doctorates than men in 2009

    WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Women were awarded more doctorates than men for the first time last year, according to a study released Monday by the Council of Graduate Schools.

    The achievement — women received 50.4 percent of the doctorates in the U.S. in 2008-09 — means women dominate every level of higher education from bachelor’s degrees to Ph.D.s. Women have earned more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men since the 1980s, said Nathan Bell, the report’s author and the council’s director of research and policy analysis.

    Overtaking men in the doctorate realm “”was bound to happen,”” Bell said. “”I wasn’t sure it was going to happen this year, but it wasn’t a surprise.””

    But the study, which analyzed graduate degrees awarded by nearly 700 U.S. universities, also found some persistent disparities, particularly in math, science and engineering fields. Women received just 22 percent of the engineering degrees in 2008-09, and 27 percent in math and computer science.

    Those statistics sharply contrasted with education and health sciences, where women earned 67 percent and 70 percent of the doctorates, respectively. Schools should work hard to balance all those numbers, Bell said.

    “”If we are going to remain competitive as a country, we have to draw from the best of the best in every field,”” he said. “”Any field that relies on one segment of the population isn’t taking full advantage of all available resources.””

    At the University of California, Berkeley, where the majority of doctorates are awarded in math, science and engineering, women have consistently comprised about 41 percent of the Ph.D. recipients since 2000, according to the university. That number could change as women start to see environmental and social-justice applications for those disciplines, said C. Judson King, a former University of California provost and now director of UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Higher Education.

    “”If you can see in the science or engineering something that helps society, that will be more attractive to women,”” he said. “”With men, it tends to be more what they like conceptually.””

    It has been slow work convincing women that engineering would be a good career choice, said Aude Hofleitner, a UC Berkeley electrical-engineering doctoral student and a co-president of a group of female engineering and computer-science students.

    “”I think the culture has a lot to do with it,”” she said. “”It’s ingrained that engineering is for men and hairdressing is for women.””

    Although UC Berkeley and other research-oriented schools have tried hard to attract women to science, math and engineering, some educators have worried about the dwindling number of men attending college. At Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif., for example, men comprised just 37 percent of the student body in the spring semester.

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