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Degree Attainment - Research and Trends for Women in STEM

Degree Attainment

Bachelor's Degrees to Women

The proportion of bachelor’s degree holders in engineering and computer science that are women is at about 20 percent, which is the lowest when compared to other STEM fields. This proportion has been relatively stagnant for over a decade. On the contrary, women comprise the majority of the bachelor’s degree holders in other STEM fields, such as psychology, biological and agricultural sciences, and social sciences.

Women’s Share of Science & Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees, by field, 2000-2015

Degree Attainment
Source: National Science Board. 2018. Science and Engineering Indicators 2018.

degree-attainment-1With fewer females than males interested in pursuing a degree in engineering or computer/information sciences, fewer bachelor's degrees are awarded to females as compared to males. Overall, interest in these fields has grown, with more than 174,000 bachelor's degrees in engineering and computer/information sciences awarded in 2015. Unfortunately, the percentage of females earning degrees has remained relatively unchanged over the last ten years.

Top 10 Engineering Degrees, Female, 2016-17
Source: Yoder, B. L. (2018). Engineering by the numbers. American Society for Engineering Education.

  1. Mechanical
  2. Chemical
  3. Civil
  4. Biomedical
  5. Computer Science
  6. Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems
  7. Electrical
  8. Computer Engineering
  9. Environmental
  10. Metallurgical & Materials

Bachelor's Degrees Earned by Women of Color

Few STEM bachelor’s degrees are earned by Asian, Hispanic, Black, and American Indian or Alaska Native women, particularly in the engineering fields. In 2015, about six percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees were earned by women of color.

Percentage of Science & Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees Earned by Women of Color, 2015

Degree Attainment
Source: National Science Board. 2018. Science and Engineering Indicators 2018.

Advanced Degrees Earned by Women

STEM degrees at the master's and doctoral levels have also increased among males and females, with females earning a larger share of graduate degrees than at the bachelor's level. However, the gap is still large, with only 27% of master's degrees in engineering and computer/information sciences awarded to females and 23% of doctoral degrees awarded to females.

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Advanced Degrees Earned by Women of Color

Similar to the proportion of bachelor’s degrees earned by women of color, few engineering master’s and doctoral degrees are earned by women of color.

Percentage of Science & Engineering Master’s Degrees Earned by Women of Color, 2015

Degree Attainment
Source: National Science Board. 2018. Science and Engineering Indicators 2018.

Percentage of Science & Engineering Doctoral Degrees Earned by Women of Color, 2015

Degree Attainment
Source: National Science Board. 2018. Science and Engineering Indicators 2018.

SWE Efforts to Increase Female Attainment of Engineering Degrees

SWE has a strong network of collegiate members across the country.


Additional Resources