Population Characteristics

Educational Degrees and Instructional Staff

The number of post-secondary educational degrees awarded to women rose from just over half a million in the 1969-1970 school year to more than 1.5 million in 2002-03. Although the number of degrees earned by men has also increased, the growth among women has been much faster and therefore the proportion of degrees earned by women has also risen dramatically. In 1969-1970, men earned a majority of every type of degree, while in 2002-03, women earned more than 50 percent of all associateís, bachelorís, and masterís degrees, and earned almost half of all first professional and doctoral degrees. The most significant increase has been in the proportion of women earning a first professional degree, which jumped from 5.3 percent in 1969-1970 to 48.2 percent in 2002-03. That year, the total number of women earning their first professional degree (38,976) was 21 times greater than in 1969-1970 (1,841).

Males are more likely than females to be employed as full-time instructional staff in degree-granting institutions; overall, 60.6 percent of full-time faculty were male in 2003, while the remaining 39.4 percent were female. With regard to rank, the proportion of males to females declined steadily with rank. The only ranks in which women were a majority were those of instructor and lecturer; males were the majority among full, associate, and assistant professors.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.