Women Continue to Outearn Men-In Bachelor's and Master's Degrees

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Women Continue to Outearn Men-In Bachelor's and Master's Degrees


Assuming that education continues to be an integral part of success, women are poised to close a host of professional gaps. Nationwide, women earned 57% of bachelor's degrees (133 for every 100 earned by men) and 58% of master's degrees (138 for every 100 earned by men) in 2000, according to a Northeastern University report prepared for The Business Roundtable. In the past decade, women have earned 55% of all bachelor's and master's degrees, and 60% of associate's degrees, and that proportion is expected to increase in the next decade.

The educational gender gap varies by race/ethnicity, with the largest gap occurring between Black women and Black men (see table).

While the past decade has seen an overall increase in the proportion of graduating high school seniors who enroll in two- or four-year colleges, the proportion of women enrollig has exceeded that of men each year, with an average gap of more than six percentage points.

Women outnumber men at colleges and universities in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Utah is the only state in which male college students outnumber female students.

This shift will have significant implications for virtually all aspects of American society Businesses will have to adapt their expectations, policies, and programs to meet the priorities of women, as the pool of highly skilled workers becomes increasingly female. Marketers may have to rethink the target audiences for all kinds of products, and they'll certainly need to adjust marketing messages and media to fit a more highly educated female consumer.

Social psychologists are already concerned about the impact of gender imbalances on sexual relationships between students at colleges and universities (see MTW, September 2001), and there's a great deal of speculation on how such an education gap might affect relations between adult women and men. If nothing else, we may well see an increase in the rate at which the current wage gap between men and women narrows. [EDUCATION]

Gender Gap In Degrees Earned, By Race/Ethnicity, 1978-2000

(Number of degrees earned by women per 100 degrees earned by men)

Academic year  1978-79  1988-89  1999-00

Asian
Associate's         85       97      131
Bachelor's          87       96      117
Master's            65       71      111

Black
Associate's        142      169      188
Bachelor's         144      160      192
Master's           175      172      221

Hispanic
Associate's        100      121      146
Bachelor's          93      114      148
Master's            99      119      153

White
Associate's        111      135      149
Bachelor's          92      111      131
Master's           101      121      151

Sources: Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University,
U. … 

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