Women Choosing Other Fields Over Engineering and Math
Posted on May 26, 2008 Comments (6)
The graph shows college degrees granted in the USA. This topic sets up one for criticism, but I believe it is more important to examine the data and explore the possible ideas than to avoid anything that might be questioned by the politically correct police. An import factor, to me anyway, is that women are now graduating from college in far higher numbers than men. And in many science fields female baccalaureate graduates outnumber male graduates (psychology [67,000 to 19,000], biology[42,000 to 26,000], anthropology, sociology [20,000 to 8,000]) while men outnumber women in others (math [7,000 to 6,000], engineering [53,000 to 13,000], computer science [39,000 to 11,000], physics [3,000 to 900]).
What does this all mean? It is debatable, but I think it is very good news for the efforts many have made over the last few decades to open up opportunities for women. I still support efforts to provide opportunities for girls to get started in science and engineering but I think we have reached the day when the biggest concern is giving all kids better math and science primary education (and related extracurricular activities). Also continued focus and effort on the doctorate and professional opportunities for women is warranted.
But for kids today it seems like the data shows there is at least as much reason to encourage boys to pursue college degrees and fields such as psychology as there is to encourage girls to pursue engineering (except of course I happen to favor engineering – hence the topic of this blog but…). After all the number of college degrees in science and engineering is equal for men and women, which is great. Granted since women are getting a significantly higher proportion of all degrees, so there is still a bias toward men getting science and engineering degrees. But there is a larger bias for women in all other fields combined.
Related: Diversity in Science and Engineering – Women Working in Science – Engineering Education at Smith College – The freedom to say ‘no’ – Girls in Science and Engineering – USA Science and Engineering Degree Data (2007) – Fixing Engineering’s Gender Gap – Worldwide Science and Engineering Doctoral Degree Data
* graph source: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Completions Survey, 1966–2005.
** Data source: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations of U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Completions Survey, 1996–2005. I suppose there has to be (or should be I would think) a specific url for this but I can’t find it (I would think you would want to make the url for this very obvious – at least I would if I were posting such info for NSF – a breadcrumb navigation on any specific data from the report should include a link to the permanent url for that report).