Percentage of Women Graduating with Philosophy Degrees Increases


In 2020, 39% of undegraduates leaving colleges with degrees in philosophy were women, up from 35% in 2017, reports Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside).

At his blog, The Splintered Mind, Professor Schwitzgebel writes:

Women were very steadily 30-34% of Bachelor’s recipients in philosophy from 1987 to 2016. In 2017, they reached 35% for the first time. In 2018, 36%. In 2019, 38%. In 2020, 39%. Although this might seem like a small increase, given the numbers involved and the general slowness of cultural change, this constitutes a substantial and significant movement toward parity. This increase appears to be specific to philosophy. For example, it is not correlated with the percentage of women graduates overall which rose from 51% in 1987 to 57% in 1999 and has remained steady at 57-58% ever since.

from “The Philosophy Major Is Back, Now with More Women” by Eric Schwitzgebel

He notes that the trend is especially pronounced among those with philosophy as a second major:

Aggregating over the past four years of data (2017-2020), 42% of graduates with a second major in philosophy were women, compared to 36% of graduates whose only or primary major was philosophy.

More information here.

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Animal Symbolicum
3 months ago

What are the explanations out there for why, since 1987, a smaller percentage of men than of women has received a bachelor’s degree?Report

Eric Schwitzgebel
Eric Schwitzgebel
Reply to  Animal Symbolicum
3 months ago

It’s debated, as you might expect. One leading theory is that it’s a consequence of boys’ weaker performance in K-12 education (the cause of which is itself debated). Another is that it’s a consequence of more male- than female-dominated professions paying fairly well without a college degree.Report

Animal Symbolicum
Reply to  Eric Schwitzgebel
3 months ago

Interesting. Thanks.Report

Animal Symbolicum
Reply to  Eric Schwitzgebel
3 months ago

Sorry, one more thing. Do you happen to have any resources you could point me toward or quickly link to that are relevant to the debate about why boys are underperforming in K-12 education?Report

Bradford Cokelet
Reply to  Animal Symbolicum
3 months ago

I am only a dabbler on this topic but this psychology article might be of interest to you as it is a meta-analysis and casts doubt on claims about a recent boy crisis. It has been cited over a thousand times so it would presumably link you into the debates in psych journals.

“Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement” Psychological Bulletin, 2014

When I was browsing around on this topic I also found economists writing about this very interesting. Here is an example: “The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap” J of Economic Perspectives.Report

John Thompson
3 months ago

This is going to be bad for the gender paygap.Report