From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Since 1990 females have only constituted between 30 and 32 percent of undergraduate economic majors (except between 2001-2003 where the percentage spiked to 35 percent). This imbalance in the undergraduate level, has led to an underrepresentation of women through all levels in the academic economic pipeline. (Siegfried).
In comparison, since 1995 the percentage of women in undergraduate engineering has hovered near 20% (Cosentino, Horting) and in political science, since 1990, women have constituted between 43 and 50 percent of undergraduate majors (Brandes, Buker, et.al).
It is evident that the underrepresentation of women in Economics is an issue that needs attention.
In terms of race, the percentage of minorities awarded undergraduate degrees in economics has hovered around 12 -13 percent since 1996. Since 2002, the total percentage of minorities awarded undergraduate degrees in science and engineering has hovered around 17 percent and for social sciences as a whole, 19.5 percent. The fact that minority students comprise a larger percentage of science and engineering majors (fields that are typically criticized due to the lack of minority representation) than they do economics majors is alarming.
Throughout the years there has been extensive literature concerning underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields, yet the field of Economics has yet to gain the same level attention. Data has shown that underrepresented minorities should have a greater stake in the field of Economics, and the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession has attempted to alleviate this issue through its programs. Please click here for more information on CSMGEP.
Comparison Data: Click here to see a comparison of participation rates by race in Economics, the Social Sciences, and STEM fields.
In Economics, women have made great strides in terms of increasing their representation in the field. Although there is still work to be done, especially early on in the pipeline. Attracting a greater percentage of women to the field of economics at the undergraduate level has shown to be crucial in order to have greater representation at the doctorate level. The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession has, like CSMGEP, brought attention to this issue and has created programs promoting women in economics. For more information on CSWEP please click here
Comparison Data: Click here to see a comparison of participation rates by gender in Economics, the Social Sciences, and STEM fields
Click on the graphs above to zoom.
Summary: The scatterplot above shows a time trend in Economics degrees awarded to men and women. The number of degrees awarded in the field of Economics has steadily increased, which is a sign that the field has attracted more interest. The data also demonstrates that the gap between degrees awarded to men and women in Economics is steadily becoming smaller, although there are still improvements to be made.
Click here to download a basic database of Economics degrees earned by Gender from 1966-2009.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS) Completions, 1995-2009 (Washington , D.C.: NCES, 2011). Created by data provided by WebCaspar