The Higher Education Gender Gap

Over the past few decades, there has been a disturbing trend within higher education. From 2009 to 2010, 2.9 million more women than men were attending postsecondary degree granting institutions and over 237,000 more women earned bachelor's degrees when compared to men. It is believed that this gender gap is only going to continue to widen. Throughout 300 years of higher education in America, men were seen to outnumber females within the college population. However, through the 1960sand the 1970s, the gap began closing. The Digest of Education Statistics from 2011 suggests that 1950 marked the first time that more than 30 percent of the enrollment in degree granting institutions were female. During 1979, women began achieving the majority of that status and throughout the past 30 years, the gap has only continued to widen. Every year from 2003 to 2010 has shown that women have made around 57 percent of the enrolled students. The gap is also higher among graduate students, which shows that 58.8 percent of graduates are women and only 41.2 percent are men.

From 1975 to 2010, the undergraduate male population increased by around 2.5 million, which shows a change from 5.3 million to a surge of 7.8 million. In contrast, the female undergraduate population was shown to increase by almost 6 million, reflecting in a surge from 4.4 million to 10.2 million. Women have greatly increased their participation in higher education although male participation has only increased slowly. The gender gap is considered to to continue to widen based on information from the "Projections of Education Statistics to 2021." The enrollment of men in postsecondary degree granting institutions is projected to increase by 10 percent between 2010 and 2021 – however, the enrollment of women is expected to increase by 18 percent. When 2021 arrives, 5.2 million more women will be in enrolled when compared to the expected amount of men. Among the undergraduates, 3.5 million more women than men will also be enrolled.

Degree attainment is another area where women are exceeding men. From 2010, the percentage of males from the ages of 25 to 34 who earned a bachelor's degree was 27 percent – however, 35 percent of women had earned their bachelor's degree. From 2010 to 2021, it is expected that the amount of bachelor's degrees awarded to men is going to increase by around 19 percent but the number is going to increase by 23 percent regarding women. For master's degrees, 29 percent of men will attain them, while 38 percent of women will also attain these degrees. Doctorates reveal a percentage of 19 percent for men and 29 percent for women. During 2021 and 2022, the gap found between women and men who will receive their bachelor's degrees is suggested to be around 316,000. More than 57 percent of bachelor's degrees were earned by women since 2000.

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