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Women Earned More Doctoral Degrees Than Men In 2008-2009

First Posted: 09/14/10 01:20 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:40 PM ET

Women Doctorates

Women outnumbered men for the first time in achievement of doctoral degrees in the 2008-2009 academic year, a new report details.

According to the Council of Graduate Schools, which conducted the analysis of graduate enrollment and degrees, 50.4 percent of last year's PhDs were awarded to women. Though more women have been enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs since the 1980s, men have held sway in terms of PhDs until last year, perhaps because it might be harder for women to devote the required years of study than it is for men. As Catherine Hill, research director at the American Association of University Women, told the Washington Post, "Many women feel they have to choose between having a career in academics and having a family."

According to the Council of Graduate School's Research and Policy Analysis Director Nathan Bell, the parity has been a long time coming. Bell told Inside Higher Ed that the phenomenon was inevitable given recent trends in higher learning. But the female majority is not consistent across disciplines; men still hold an advantage in engineering, math and computer science, physical and earth sciences and business.

Do you think universities should make an active effort to narrow the gender gap? Share your thoughts below.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |