Elections & Government
The number of STEM degrees women received increased 66.3% since the 2008-2009 academic year, according to the latest data available from the US Department of Education. Still, women accounted for only 32.4% of all STEM degree recipients during the 2017-2018 school year.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, women earned 237,874 science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees at colleges and universities nationwide, up from 143,018 in the 2008-2009 year. Overall, the number of STEM degrees earned during that time increased 55.3%, 472,262 to 733,445.
That gap persists despite the fact that women accounted for the majority of bachelor’s degrees conferred beginning in the 1981-1982 academic year, the majority of master’s degrees in 1986-1987 and the majority of doctorates in 2006-2007.
Standardized math tests for fourth, eighth, and 12th graders show little gap in scores for female and male students. Between 1990 and 2019, data shows at most a three-point gap in average scores (on a 500-point scale) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress between the genders in a given year.
Access to STEM degrees and jobs may have a significant impact on a person’s earnings. STEM occupations made up 6.1% or 10 million of the 162.8 million jobs nationwide in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual wage for STEM jobs was $86,980 while the median annual wage for all other jobs was $38,160. The BLS projects there will be 797,800 new STEM jobs by 2029, an increase of 8%. Employment in other jobs is projected to increase 5.2 million, which sounds much higher, but is an increase of just 3.4%.
As of July, the median weekly earnings for female workers was $913, which was 84% of the male median weekly earnings of $1,087. As the number of women earning STEM degrees increases, it’s worth watching how the expected growth in STEM jobs will affect the pay gap.
Keep up with the latest data and most popular content.