Younger CT women shift toward degrees in sciences, away from education

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Younger people are earning bachelor’s degrees in education at a far lower rate than older age groups, and gender gaps in science and engineering have narrowed, new Census data show.

Nationwide, just 8.9 percent of 25- to 39-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees studied education, compared with 12.7 percent of 40- to 64-year-olds and 23.5 percent of people aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey five-year estimates.

The Census Bureau groups degree fields into five broad categories: science and engineering; science and engineering related fields; business; education; arts humanities and other. (More on the different categories below).

Science and engineering, which is the most popular degree category for all three age groups, has gained share from 32.1 percent among those aged 65 and older, to 34 percent among 40- to 64-year-olds, to 37 percent among 25- to 39-year-olds.

In Connecticut

In Connecticut, 25- to 39-year-olds hold education degrees at among the lowest levels in the nation: just 7.5 percent, compared with a national median of 10.3 percent among all states. In Connecticut that 7.5-precent figure compares with 10.3 percent among 40- to 64-year-olds and 19.7 percent among those 65 and-older.

All combined there were 925,607 people in Connecticut aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 36.6 percent studying science and engineering; 8.5 percent, engineering-related fields, 19.7 percent, business; 11.1 percent, education; and 24 percent, arts, humanities and other areas.

The data, a new Census topic, shed new light on a challenge educators have faced for years. In Connecticut, 250 teaching positions went unfilled in the 2014-15 school year because of a lack of qualified candidates, and the number of candidates per position went down, according to state Department of Education data.

In Connecticut and most states, more women hold bachelor’s degrees than men. There are an estimated 441,828 men and 483,779 women with bachelor’s degrees, a difference of about 4.5 percent.

A gender gap in the sciences has narrowed. While men 65 and older were once more than twice as likely as women to study science and engineering, men 25 to 39 were 1.3 times as likely.

Among Connecticut degree holders aged 65 and older, 20.7 percent of women had studied science and engineering, compared with 47.2 percent of men. But among 25- to 39-year-old women, 35.5 percent studied science and engineering, while 45 percent of 25- to 39-year-old men held degrees in this field — a rate to that for men twice their age.

Similarly, younger women are gravitating more toward business. Just 6.1 percent of women 65 and older held business degrees, compared with 15.9 percent of 25-39-year-olds.

The gender split among educators has remained tilted toward women, who are about three times more likely than men to study education in all three age groups.

Categorizing fields of study

The broad categories of degrees are broken into 15 more specific fields. Perhaps the least intuitive distinction is between “science and engineering” and “science and engineering related fields.”

Science and engineering includes fields computer science, biology, physical sciences, psychology, mathematics, engineering and multidisciplinary studies.

Science and engineering related fields includes fields that employ scientific fields, including such majors as nursing, architecture.

Arts, humanities and other very generally covers majors as broad as criminal justice and social work to literature, visual and performing arts.

Business includes majors such as accounting and management.

Education includes majors such as general and elementary education.

The source material and code used to analyze this data is available on our GitHub repository. In order to promote transparency and accuracy, Trend CT encourages you examine our work and use it to enhance your own analyses.

What do you think?

  • Peter Morgan

    As of 8am Monday, there’s a problem with the second and third graphs in Mozilla, MSEdge, and Safari. For both, I see only the very top of the graph.

  • Joel Tolman

    Thanks for sharing these data! Given big questions about how white Connecticut’s teaching force is, it would be helpful to see these data (especially those on education degrees) disaggregated by race.

  • BJ Michael

    It is relatively easy for someone with a science or engineering degree to earn the additional credentials needed to become an educator. Much harder to go the other way. About half the science department staff (myself included) at the Connecticut public high school from which I recently retired earned their Bachelor degrees in science or engineering. This could just mean will have more teachers even more knowledgeable in the future.