Humanities Indicators
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Higher Education  >  Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Information for Specific Humanities Disciplines
Gender Distribution of Degrees in Philosophy
(Updated April 2016)

From 1987 to 2014, the proportion of women earning degrees in philosophy was substantially lower than that for the humanities field as a whole. The share of women earning bachelors and master’s degrees fell over that time span, while the share earning doctoral degrees increased modestly (though it showed some decline in recent years).

Findings and Trends

  • In 2014, 31% of philosophy degree completers at the bachelors and doctorate levels were women, and 28% of master’s degree recipients were women (Indicator II-21g).
  • From 1987 to 2014, women’s share of bachelor’s degrees varied little, fluctuating in the 30–33% range.
  • The share of women earning master’s degrees varied widely from 1987 to the early 2000s (from as high as 46% in 1991 to a low of 29% in 1993 and 1998). Since 2007, however, the share of women earning master’s degrees in the discipline has been consistently below 30% and fell below 25% in 2013.
  • After two sharp upticks in the late 1980s, the share of women earning doctorates in philosophy fluctuated in the 24–30% range for most of the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. In 2011, the share reached a recorded high of 32% (up from 1987’s historic low of 19%). The percent of doctorates earned by women in the discipline fell over the next two years but rose again to 31% in 2014.
II-21g: Percentages of Bachelor's and Graduate Degrees in Philosophy Awarded to Women, 1987–2014*

* Degree shares do not include second majors.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data were accessed and analyzed via the National Science Foundation’s online science and engineering resources data system, WebCASPAR.

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