Men, women now equally likely to pursue PhDs in STEM fields

February 19, 2015

A new study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology suggests that the "leaky pipeline" problem—a phenomenon by which women in the sciences are less likely than men to pursue advanced education and faculty positions—may now affect men and women equally. In the 1970s, men with bachelor's degrees were 1.6 to 1.7 times more likely to later earn a PhD. However, since the 1990s, male and female bachelor's degree holders have been equally likely to pursue a doctorate. There were some distinctions between disciplines: one of the report's authors, David Miller, said that the gender gap in the physical sciences has narrowed due to a larger number of women earning PhDs, whereas in computer sciences, fewer men are earning PhDs. He also added that the data may have been affected by external factors, including shifting industry demands for experts without the expectation of a PhD. Moreover, some may have been dissuaded from pursuing a PhD due to the poor academic job market. Miller also cautioned that the results should not cause institutions  or policy makers to end programs designed to attract women to STEM fields. Inside Higher Ed | Full Study