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Friday, March 9, 2018
Tracking Women’s Presence in Higher Education
In honor of International Women's Day 2018, I’m devoting today's blog to a cursory look at the state of affairs for women in higher education. In the interest of brevity, I'm focusing exclusively on American colleges and universities.

The first thing to note is this: women have made up the majority of college student populations since the late 1970s. Over the past four decades, their numbers have continued on an upward trend. Some of the most recent federal data calculates that women accounted for 55% of undergraduates matriculating from U.S. universities.

These numbers generally ring true at the graduate and professional school level as well. In late 2017, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) released its annual report for 2016, noting that women earned the majority of doctoral degrees for the eighth straight year, outnumbering men in graduate school by 135 to 100. In 2017, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported that-for the first time ever-more women than men were enrolled in U.S. medical schools. In 2016, the number of women enrolled in U.S. law schools exceeded men, for the very first time.

In fact, the only notable lack of representation for women is in graduate business programs, where women make up just 37% of student enrollment. The good news is that many MBA programs have gotten savvier and more assertive in their efforts to encourage women to apply, and that there are individual schools across the country where women's enrollment exceeds that of their male counterparts.

The flipside of all of this good news is simple: after graduation, women's representation takes a cognizable nosedive. There are just 32 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 (.06%). There are just 106 female members of U.S. Congress (19.8%). Just thirty percent of college presidents are women. Three out of nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices are women. The U.S. has never had a female president or vice-president. The misalignment between women in management and women in school is staggering.

It's a stark reminder that progress doesn't have legs of its own and that, if the future is indeed female, we've got a lot of work to do.


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