U.S. Female Geoscience Enrollment Continues to Grow

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The number of women enrolled as undergraduate geoscience majors continued to increase, and at the graduate level remained largely steady. Given the recent trend of lower percentages of female participation, we decided to present the data to see if the absolute number of females was also decreasing. In reality, the recent rapid increase in enrollments has largely been driven by new male enrollments, and with the slight decrease in total enrollments in 2012-2013, more than all of the change is accounted for by the decrease in male enrollments. The reasons for the recent trend of strong male enrollments in the geosciences are uncertain, but it is possible that the resource-industry job opportunities might be slightly more attractive to men than women. Also the recent draw-down in U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan might be at play. This second line of reasoning might be supported with the decrease in male enrollments now that the draw-down is nearing completion. Likewise, a number of organizations made specific efforts to recruit returning service personnel into geoscience careers.

U.S. geoscience undergraduate enrollment by gender, 1975-2013. Source: AGI's Directory of Geoscience Departments.

U.S. geoscience graduate enrollment by gender, 1975-2013. Source: AGI's Directory of Geoscience Departments.

The percentage of undergraduate female students in 2012-2013 was 40%, up from 38% in 2011-2012. At the graduate level, the percentage of women enrolled in the geosciences remained level at 42.5%.

U.S. geoscience enrollment by percent female, 1975-2013. Source: AGI's Directory of Geoscience Departments.

Date updated: 2014-02-06
Data Brief 2014-003
Written and compiled by Christopher Keane for AGI, February 2014

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