For the first time ever, women are earning the majority of PhDs awarded in the United States, narrowly edging out men from their last stronghold in US academic achievement, a study shows.
"While women have long earned the majority of master's degrees awarded in the US, the 2008-09 academic year was the first year ever that women earned the majority (50.4 percent) of doctorates as well," an annual report released Tuesday by the Council of Graduate Schools says.
Women also earned about two-thirds of the graduate certificates awarded in 2008-09, and 60 percent of the master's degrees, said the report, which was based on surveys sent to more than 800 US colleges and universities.
At the doctoral level, education accounted for the largest number of degrees awarded in 2008-09, with 14.4 percent of the total. Women earned more than two-thirds of the PhDs awarded in education.
Women also earned a majority of doctorates in the health sciences (70 percent), in public administration (61.5 percent), social and behavioral sciences (60 percent), arts and humanities (53 percent) and biological and agricultural sciences (51 percent).
But men continue to dominate in fields seen as traditionally male, such as engineering, which awarded the second largest number of PhDs in the United States after education.
More than three-quarters of recipients of engineering doctorates last year were men.
Other fields in which men are holding the fort are mathematics and computer sciences, in which 73 percent of doctorates awarded in the United States went to men; physical and earth sciences (66 percent male PhDs) and business (61 percent).
US Census Bureau data released in April showed that women overtook men in terms of holding advanced degrees - both master's degrees and PhDs lumped together - in 2000.
Earlier this month, a report by a New York-based strategy and research firm, Reach Advisors, found that young, single, urban-dwelling American women without children are for the first time earning more than their male peers.
A key reason for young women's greater earning potential is the fact that they are "going to college in droves," and going further than men in their education, the report said.