Undergraduate participation data

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Since 1980, women have received only about 30% of Bachelor's degrees in Economics, and the percentage of Bachelor's degrees in Economics awarded to racial minorities has hovered around 12% since 1996. These imbalances at the undergraduate level contribute to the underrepresentation of women and minorities at all levels of the academic economics pipeline.

Strikingly, female, black, and Hispanic students comprise larger percentages of science and engineering majors than they do economics majors.

Race

Throughout the years, an extensive literature concerning underrepresented minorities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field has developed. The field of Economics has yet to gain the same level attention, even though significant differences in participation are evident for Black and Hispanic college students.

In 2011, institutions awarded 5% of Bachelor’s degrees in Economics to Black students and 7% to Hispanic students. In contrast, Black students received 8% of degrees in STEM fields and 10% of degrees in Political Science. Hispanic students received 8% of Bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields and 11% of the Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science.

SSRace.pngEconByRace.pngSTEMRace.png Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS) Completions, 1995-2011 (Washington , D.C.: NCES, 2013). Created with data provided by WebCaspar. Includes only U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Gender

The STEM fields and other social sciences attract many more female majors than does Economics. While women receive only 30% of the undergraduate degrees in Economics, they receive over 50% in both Political Science and STEM.

Attracting a greater percentage of women to economics at the undergraduate level is crucial to having greater representation at the Ph.D. level. A recent newsletter from The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP) explores the gender gap in the undergraduate economics.

SSGen.pngEconByGen.pngSTEMGen.png Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS) Completions, 1995-2011 (Washington , D.C.: NCES, 2013). Created with data provided by WebCaspar.

Time Trends

EconDegYear.png EconDegnew.png Click on the graphs above to zoom.

The plots above show time trends in undergraduate Economics degrees awarded to men and women since 1966. The diagram on the left shows that the number of degrees awarded in the field of Economics has steadily increased, indicating that the field as a whole has attracted more interest. Though the number of women in Economics was increasing faster than the number of men during the 1970s, the trend has reversed in recent years.

The diagram on the right presents historical data analogous to the pie chart above, reporting the percentage of Economics Bachelor's degrees received by women for each year since 1966. The percentage has not changed very much since the 1980s, hovering around the 30% mark.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS) Completions, 1995-2011 (Washington , D.C.: NCES, 2013). Created with data provided by WebCaspar.


See more Participation data.