Women earned more Ph.D.s than men last year, study finds

A new study conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools found that for the first time ever, females were awarded more doctoral degrees than males.

The study found that in 2008-2009, women earned 50.4 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded in the United States, a 6.4 percent increase over 2000. Over the past 10 years, the average annual rate of increase in doctorates earned by women was 5.5 percent, that figure was 2.1 percent for men.

Nathan Bell, director of research and policy analysis for the Council Graduate of Schools, said in an article on the Inside Higher Education website that the statistics are not surprising. According to Bell, the increased female success in higher education is a "natural progression of what we have been seeing."

While the ratio of female doctoral graduates continues to increase, there exist many more male doctorates than females. This fact is evidenced at Geneseo, where as of fall 2009 the proportion of faculty with doctoral degrees was still largely male.

According to Julie Meyer Rao, director of Institutional Research, 138 out of 198 full- and part-time male faculty had earned their doctorates. For the female faculty, 90 out of 155 had earned doctoral degrees.

The Geneseo Factbook shows that some disciplines tend to attract more faculty members of a certain sex than others. For example, the foreign languages and literatures department and the Ella Cline Shear School of Education employ more female than male faculty, and departments like the School of Business, physics and chemistry have more males.

These trends are mirrored by the research conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools, which found that doctoral degrees awarded to females were primarily in the fields of health science and education. Degrees awarded to males were primarily in the fields of physical and earth sciences and business.

Rao, who put together the Geneseo Factbook, said that "while there is not excellent gender equality among faculty, the college has been striving to change that." With increasing numbers of female undergraduate and graduate students, the gender ratio of higher education is constantly changing. Geneseo's undergraduate population is 57 percent female.