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Just the Stats: Minorities Show Slow Progress in Science and Engineering Degree Attainment

Women have made significant progress in science and engineering, having earned half of bachelor’s degrees, 44 percent of master’s degrees and 37 percent of doctorates in science and engineering in 2003-2004. African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians continue to be under-represented, collectively earning 16 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 11 percent of master’s and barely 6 percent of doctorates for the same period, according to a report released Wednesday.


Other key highlights of the 16th edition of Professional Women and Minorities from the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology include:

·         Since 1966, the percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women in science and engineering doubled from 24.8 percent to 50.4 percent in 2004.

·         In 1966, women only earned 13.3 percent S&E master’s, but that figure tripled to 43.6 percent in 2004.

·         Women earning doctorates showed the most growth; 37.4 percent of doctorates went to women in 2004, compared to 8.0 percent in 1966.  

Despite their gains in degree attainment, women represented 25 percent of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics labor force in 2005. Women were mostly represented in social sciences, biological sciences, and psychology related occupations, but least represented in mechanical and civil engineering occupations. 


African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have not shown as large of a leap as women in S&E degrees. Hispanics, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, only earned 7.3 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 4.3 percent master’s degrees and 2.7 percent of doctorates in science and engineering-related fields in 2004. Similarly, African Americans earned 8.4 percent of bachelor’s, 6.3 percent of master’s, and 2.8 percent of doctorates although they make up 13 percent of the population. American Indians only constitute 1 percent of the U.S. population and earned less than 1 percent of earned degrees in S&E at all levels. 

African Americans represent 13.1 percent of database administrators, however, only account for 1.7 percent of engineering managers, and slightly more than 3 percent of chemical engineers. Hispanics have increased their representation in aerospace engineering, accounting for 8.2 percent of the field. However, they only account for 2.7 percent of chemists and materials scientist, and 3.8 percent of computer software engineers.


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