Undergraduate participation data

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General

Since 1990, women have only constituted about 30 percent of undergraduate economic majors. This imbalance at the undergraduate level contributes to the underrepresentation of women at all levels of the academic economics pipeline.

The percentage of racial minorities awarded undergraduate degrees in economics has hovered around 12 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, 20 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.

Race

Throughout the years, an extensive literature concerning underrepresented minorities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field has developed, yet the field of Economics has yet to gain the same level attention. Data have shown that underrepresented minorities should have a greater stake in the field of Economics. For example, by comparing census data for geographic regions to the racial make up of Economics faculty of schools within those regions, studies have shown that Black American Economists "are chronically, and in many cases vulgarly underrepresented on the economics faculties of Ph.D granting economics departments in the United States" (Price, 2006) [1]. 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.

Significant differences in participation are especially evident for Black and Hispanic students. In 2009, institutions have awarded 5.3 percent of bachelor’s degrees in Economics to Black students. In contrast, Black students received 8 percent of degrees in STEM fields and 10.1 percent of degrees in Social Science fields. Similarly, in 2009, institutions awarded 6.4 percent of bachelor’s degrees in Economics to Hispanic students, whereas Hispanic students received 7.3 percent of bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields and 9.9 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in the Social Sciences.

EconByRace.pngSTEMRace.pngSSRace.png 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.

Comparison Data: Click here to see a comparison of participation rates by race in Economics, the Social Sciences, and STEM fields.

Gender

In Economics, women have made great strides in terms of increasing their representation in the field. Despite these accomplishments, there is still work to be done, especially early on in the pipeline at the undergraduate level. 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

The STEM fields and the other Social Sciences attract many more female majors than does Economics. While women are only awarded 30 percent of the undergraduate degrees in Economics, they are awarded about 54 percent of undergraduate degrees in the Social Sciences and 52 percent of the degrees in STEM.

EconByGen.pngSTEMGen.pngSSGen.png 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.

Comparison Data: Click here to see a comparison of participation rates by gender in Economics, the Social Sciences, and STEM fields

Time Trends

EconDegYear.png EconDeg%.png Click on the graphs above to zoom. Summary: The scatterplots above show time trends in Economics degrees awarded to men and women. The diagram on the left shows that the number of degrees awarded in the field of Economics has steadily increased, indicating that the field as a whole has attracted more interest. Though the number of women in Economics was increasing faster than the number of men during the 1980s, this trend has reversed in recent years. Since 2001, the number of men receiving Economics degrees has increased from approximately 15,000 to 22,500, whereas the number of women receiving Economics degrees has only increased from approximately 7,500 to 10,000. This means that male degree recipients are increasing at about twice the rate of female degree recipients.

The diagram on the right presents data on the ratio of male and female Economics degrees since 1966. While the percentage of women receiving Economics degrees steadily increased between 1971 and 1986, it has remained fairly constant around 30% since then. This, along with the lower growth rate of female Economics graduates, suggests that the participation rates of women in Economics may continue to stagnate without more work on the part of educators to encourage female students.

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