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  Chapter Three:

  Educational Attainment
  Female Graduates
  Pupil-Teacher Ratio
  Private School
  College Tuition
  Graduate Education


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Female Graduates

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Womenís share of bachelorís and advanced degrees trended upward throughout much of the century.
Women predominated among high school graduates in 1900, earning 60 percent of the diplomas issued that year. Men were less likely to graduate from high school because so many of them entered the full-time labor force before or during their early teens. As the chart at the upper left indicates, the proportion of high school diplomas awarded to women declined to about half by the end of the century. 

While women received a majority of high school diplomas in 1900, post-secondary education was still reserved primarily for men. Women earned only 19 percent of bachelorís degrees in 1900, but their share doubled to 40 percent by 1930 and remained at about that level in 1940. After World War II, however, the female share of bachelorís degrees dropped sharply as male veterans flooded into colleges and universities under the G.I. Bill. Not until 1970 did womenís share of college degrees surpass the pre-World War II level. After 1970, however, womenís percentage of college degrees rose briskly, reaching parity in the early 1980s. As the chart at the upper right indicates, women received more than half of all bachelorís and first professional degrees by 1990. 

The chart at the lower left shows the female proportion of masterís and first professional degrees. This includes not only the academic masterís degrees but also the major professional degrees such as M.D., D.D.S., M.B.A., and J.D. As with bachelorís degrees, the female share was depressed as a result of the G.I. Bill, but by 1990, women received a majority of these degrees as well. In 1996, women received 56 percent of masterís degrees in education, 41 percent of medical degrees, 44 percent of law degrees, and 38 percent of business management degrees. 

The trend for academic doctorates was parallel, but women still constituted a minority of recipients at the end of the century. The doctoral degrees shown in the chart at the lower right are all academic, such as the Ph.D. in English. Women were awarded only 6 percent of all doctorates in 1900. This proportion peaked at 15 percent in 1930, then fell and remained below that level for more than forty years. After 1970, women earned a steadily larger share of doctorates, but men still predominated in most fields of advanced study. 

Although womenís share of college and advanced degrees dipped in midcentury, the number of women earning degrees at each level increased from decade to decade without interruption.

Chapter 3 chart 2

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

For high school diplomas from 1900 to 1970, see HS series H 600 and H 601. From 1971 to 1983, see (accessed August 26, 2000). From 1984 to 1997, see SA 1999, table 307. Amazingly, the U.S. Department of Education has stopped publishing the number of high school graduates by gender in the Digest of Education Statistics; the 1999 edition lists male and female graduates only through 1983. The Digest does provide figures on high school completion (including about half a million GED completions per year), but it does not separate diplomas from alternative forms of completion. For bachelorís degrees from 1900 to 1960, see HS series H 753 and H 754. From 1961 to 2000, see (accessed August 26, 2000). For masterís degrees from 1900 to 1960, see HS series H 758 and H 759. From 1961 to 2000, see (accessed August 26, 2000). From 1900 to 1960, professional degrees such as M.D. and J.D. were counted with bachelorís degrees. From 1961 onward, they were counted separately. For academic doctoral degrees, see HS series H 758 and H 759. From 1961 to 2000, see (accessed August 26, 2000).


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