College Women Outman Men

Sep 142005
Authors: Vimal Patel

The entire NCES report is available online at

Already outnumbering men at higher-education campuses nationwide, women are expected to further widen the gender gap at colleges and universities, according to a new federal report.

Between 2002 and 2014, enrollment for women in degree-granting institutions is expected to increase by 21 percent, compared with 12 percent for men, the report states.

The report was released Sept. 9 by the National Center for Education Statistics, the data-analyzing branch of the U.S. Department of Education, and provides more data to confirm the national trend that women, generally, are more focused on higher education than are men.

"I'm fascinated by the trend," said Ryan Barone, Men's Project Coordinator in the Office of Women's Programs and Studies at CSU. "It's a welcome change from the domination of higher education in this country by men."

In 2000, about 56 percent of all undergraduates were female, the center stated, compared to only 42 percent in 1970. Since 1979, women have outnumbered men on college campuses.

According to the NCES Web site, "females have higher aspirations than males while in high school, they are more likely to enroll in college immediately after graduating from high school and they persist and complete degrees at higher rates than males."

In the 1974-75 school year, women earned 7,266 doctorate degrees, while men earned 26,817, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. In 2004-05 women startlingly narrowed the gap, earning 21,000, while men earned 23,600.

In the number of bachelor's degrees conferred, however, women have not only closed the gap – they far exceeded it.

In 1974-75, women earned 418,092 bachelor's degrees while men earned 504, 841. But in 2004-05, women earned 774,000, while men only earned 578,000, the statistics show.

Barone said women are still lagging behind men in doctorate degrees partly because of gender socialization.

"Women are given messages that they should have kids and have a family," he said. "I think women should be able to have a choice to have a family or pursue a degree without societal pressure.

"Right now, there's a value placement on those decisions," he added. "If society stops placing a value placement on them, then the number would even out for PhDs."

Lori Peek, assistant sociology professor, said changing social norms over the last 30 years account for the trend of an increasing number of female education-seekers.

"More people view it as not just a privilege, but a right," she said.

Barone said another theory for why more women than men attend college is that men simply get in trouble more, preventing them from pursuing higher education.

"Men are kicked out of high school at higher rates than women," he said.

He also added that men are able to earn more money in fields that don't require degrees, such as construction, the military and carpentry.

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