April 2008

A periodic newsletter on a single topic of interest published by the Office of Higher Education


Women Continue to Outnumber Men in College at All Levels

This issue of Insight compares postsecondary enrollment and program choices between men and women in Minnesota.1 Women have outnumbered men enrolled in Minnesota postsecondary institutions overall since the early 1980s, but only recently began to outnumber men at the graduate level. While this enrollment pattern in Minnesota generally mirrors a national trend, the ratio of women to men enrolled at the graduate and professional degree level in Minnesota exceeds the national average.

Of the 331,309 students enrolled in Minnesota postsecondary institutions in fall 2006, 57 percent were women. Women outnumber men in higher education at every degree level, age category and racial or ethnic group, despite a relatively even split between men and women in the general population.2

Headcount Enrollment by Gender, Fall 2006 All Minnesota
Postsecondary Institutions

Programs in health care and education have historically attracted large numbers of women to postsecondary education. At the baccalaureate degree level, women completed more than three times the number of degrees than men in both education and health care in 2006. While equal numbers of men and women completed degrees in business and social science at the baccalaureate degree level, huge differences in program choices were apparent in other areas.

Enrollment by Gender and Age
Women outnumbered men enrolled in higher education at all age levels. Women comprise an increasingly larger proportion of undergraduate enrollment as age increases. In particular, women comprised 63 percent of enrollment among undergraduate students age 35 and over in fall 2006.

 

Undergraduate Enrollment at Minnesota Postsecondary Institutions
Fall 2006

see data table

 

Graduate-Level Enrollment by Gender and Age
Women enrolled in greater numbers than men at Minnesota postsecondary institutions across all age groups at the graduate level for fall 2006. Notably, the greatest concentration of women at the graduate level was in the 20 to 24 age group, unlike women undergraduates who were most concentrated in the 35 and over age group.

Graduate-Level Enrollment at Minnesota Postsecondary Institutions
Fall 2006

see data table

 

Enrollment by Gender and Race
Women enrolled in postsecondary education in greater numbers than men across all reported racial or ethnic categories in fall 2006. Asian, Hispanic and white women accounted for 57 percent of fall 2006 enrollment in their respective racial categories. American Indian women accounted for 63 percent of American Indians enrolled; the largest proportion of women in all racial categories. More Black women enrolled than Black men, but Black women were enrolled proportionately less than women of any other race or ethnicity.

All Enrollment at Minnesota Postsecondary Institutions
Fall 2006

see data table

 

Level of Study by Gender
Women out numbered men at all levels of study at Minnesota postsecondary institutions in fall 2006. Over 30,000 more women than men were enrolled in programs of study up to and including the bachelor's degree in fall 2006. In the same term, there were three women enrolled for every two men in master's degree programs in Minnesota. Men and women were enrolled in more equal numbers at the doctoral and first professional program level, although the number of women enrolled exceeded the number of men enrolled at these levels of study as well.

 

Enrollment by Level of Study, Minnesota Postsecondary Institutions
Fall 2006

 

Awards and Degrees Completed by Gender
Women earned more postsecondary academic credentials than men at all degree levels in academic year 2005-06. The ratio of men to women earning degrees in Minnesota is similar, but not identical, to the national ratio.

Degrees Completed by Women, Minnesota and Nation
2005-06

Degrees Completed at Minnesota Postsecondary Institutions
2005-06

 

Fields of Study by Gender
Women at all levels of study completed programs in health care clinical fields and education at rates far exceeding men. Certificates, diplomas and associate degree awards earned by women were concentrated in four fields: health sciences, business programs, cosmetology and liberal arts. Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees earned by men were more distributed across a variety of fields. Men completed awards in construction trades, mechanical and repair technology, precision production, security and protective services and engineering technology, none of which appeared among the top five programs completed by women.

At the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels, men and women completed degrees in business and the social sciences in roughly equal numbers. Master's degrees in education and business were popular among both men and women; however, three out of four master's degrees completed in education were awarded to women. At the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels, larger proportions of male students completed degrees in engineering and computer science than female students.

In general, academic awards earned by women were more concentrated in fewer fields than those earned by men in academic year 2005-2006. All fields of study and degree level by gender can be found here.

Certificates and Diplomas Completed, Top Five Fields of Study by Gender 2005-2006

Associate Degrees Completed, Top Five Fields of Study by Gender 2005-2006

Bachelor's Degrees Completed, Top Five Fields of Study by Gender 2005-2006

Master's Degrees Completed, Top Five Fields of Study by Gender 2005-2006

References:

  1. Minnesota postsecondary institutions report fall headcount enrollment data to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Minnesota postsecondary institutions report certificate, diploma and degree data to the United States Department of Education and the awards reported here are from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics. [ back ]
  2. In 2006, approximately 51.5 percent of the Minnesota population age 18 through 29 were male and 48.5 percent were female according to the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau. [ back ]

Data Sources

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education annually collects fall-term headcount enrollment data from Minnesota postsecondary education institutions. Fall headcount enrollment is defined as the reporting institution's census date, the day when the reporting institution collects fall term enrollment data. For this Insight, 4,724 students whose gender was not reported were not included.

The data do not include students enrolled in online institutions; namely, Capella and Walden. Students enroll online from around the nation and were predominately pursuing graduate degrees. At the graduate level, these students are predominately enrolled in education programs.

First professional degree programs are earned in law, theology and the health science fields of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, osteopathy, chiropractic, and veterinary medicine.

The National Center for Education Statistics, through its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, collects degrees and other awards conferred from postsecondary institutions eligible to participate in federal student financial aid programs.


About the Office of Higher Education

The Office of Higher Education is a state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to postsecondary education. The agency serves as the state's clearinghouse for data, research and analysis on postsecondary enrollment, financial aid, finance and trends.

» TABLE OF CONTENTS «

Enrollment by Gender and Age

Enrollment by Gender and Race

Level of Study by Gender

Awards and Degrees Completed by Gender

Fields of Study by Gender


» RELATED TOPICS «

Degrees Awarded in Minnesota

Gender Enrollment Statistics at a Glance


» FEATURED LINKS «

Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education: U.S. Department of Education report

Digest of Education Statistics, 2007: U.S. Department of Education

The Crossover in Female-Male College Enrollment Rates: Population Reference Bureau

College Enrollment Gender Gap Widens for White and Hispanic Students: American Council on Education


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Author
Alexandra Djurovich
Research and Policy Analyst

Editor
Barb Schlaefer
Director of Communications