June 19 2012
Vicki E. Alger
Insofar as earning doctoral degrees should be considered a measure of gender parity, women clearly come out ahead. Of the nearly 68,000 doctoral degrees awarded during the 2008-09 academic year, women earned more than half of them, 52 percent compared to 48 percent for men. This gap is actually wider than it initially appears since there are more than twice as many male non-resident alien doctoral degree-holders than female, 16 percent compared to 9 percent. Excluding non-resident aliens, American women represent 43 percent of PhD holders compared to 32 percent of American men.
In general, advanced degrees translate into higher earnings, adding as much as $1,500 to $1,600 per week in median earnings for doctoral and professional degrees. Unemployment rates are also lower for these degree holders, 2.5 percent compared to 7.6 percent on average. Insofar as good education is good economics, then women are well situated to compete with men in the workplace. Policymakers and education officials should work to ensure the widest possible array of postsecondary education options to ensure students can learn what they need to keep up with changing market conditions and succeed in the workforce.