Bachelor’s Degrees to Women
Fewer engineering and computer/information sciences bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women as compared to men. Overall, interest in these fields has grown, with more than 220,000 bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer/ information sciences awarded in the 2017-2018 academic year. Although in the past the percentage of females earning degrees has remained relatively unchanged, in the 2017-2018 academic year, women now represent about 21% of the bachelor’s degree holders in these fields.
Top 10 Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees, Female, 2020
Source: ASEE. (2021). Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
- Mechanical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Chemical Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Electrical/Computer Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
Advanced Degrees Earned by Women
STEM degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels have also increased among men and women, with female students earning a larger share of graduate degrees than at the bachelor’s level. However, the gender gap is still large, with only 29% of master’s degrees in engineering and computer/ information sciences awarded to women and 24% of doctoral degrees awarded to women.
Degree Attainment by Women of Color
Although the number of engineering degrees awarded to non-international women at all postsecondary educational levels in the U.S. has increased from the 2015-16 to 2017-18 academic years, the majority of these are earned by white women. In the 2017-18 academic year, women of color, such as Latinas and Black women, represented about 17.5% of the female Bachelor’s degree holders in engineering.
Over the past ten years, Black and Latina women comprised less than 4% of the bachelor’s degree holders in engineering and less than 5% of the bachelor’s degree holders in computer science. While Black women have constantly represented about 1% of the engineering bachelor’s degree holders in the last several years, their representation among computer science bachelor’s degree holders has been on a decline since 2003 and stagnated at around 2.35%.
Note: For this graph, women of color include Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina only.
SWE Efforts to Increase Female Attainment of Engineering Degrees
SWE has a strong network of collegiate members across the country.
- American Society for Engineering Education. (2021). Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Washington, DC.
- U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics
- National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2021. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2021. Special Report NSF 21-321. Alexandria, VA. Available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd.
- Fletcher, T., Ross, M., et al. (2016). Ignored Potential: A Collaborative Road Map for Increasing African-American Women in Engineering.