Women outpace men in quest for doctorates

Jessica Weaver

While the total number of doctorates awarded nationwide is falling, the proportion awarded to women is increasing, according to a recent report.

The Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annually released survey of nationwide doctorate recipients found that in 2002, the share of doctorates awarded to males declined by 4.5 percent. During that same time, the proportion of doctorates awarded to women rose by 1.1 percent.

That trend holds true at the University, where 563 doctorate degrees were awarded in the 2002-03 school year. This year, 46 percent of doctorates awarded went to women, up from 44 percent three years ago. Some University doctoral students are pleased to see more women pursuing careers in higher education.

“To the best of my knowledge, we haven’t seen a plummet or a huge increase in applications due to the recession or budget crisis,” said Kelly Slaughter, a third-year doctoral student in the Carlson School of Management.

The number of doctoral degrees awarded nationwide began declining in 1998, because of the growing mid-1990s economy, which caused more people to move into business fields.

Nationally, 2002 was the seventh consecutive year women earned more than 40 percent of all doctorates. In 1997, women earned 41 percent of all doctorates, while in 2002 they received 45.4 percent.

The number of doctoral degrees awarded at the University has declined since the 1999-2000 school year, but the number of women who receive doctorates has increased.

During the 1998-99 school year, women received 44 percent of all doctorates, less than last year’s 46 percent.

Jennifer Bean, a civil engineering doctoral student, said she never noticed the difference between men and women in her field. Still, she said, it seems there has been an increase in women in engineering over the past seven years.

Bean said there has been a push to get more women to enter the engineering field since she began at the University.

Maria Bergstedt, a fifth-year civil engineering doctoral student, said the number of women in her office has remained roughly constant throughout her studies.

Most doctoral students hope to use their degrees to teach at the college level and conduct research.

Paul Wilson, a first-year art history doctoral student, said he is pursuing his degree because he hopes to teach at the university level.

“When you get a degree in the humanities it’s not because you want to make more money,” Wilson said, “but because you want to spend your life doing something that interests you.”