By the Numbers

Professional Degrees Earned by Women

Another way to document the increasing number of women entering the health professions is to look at the number of professional degrees awarded to women. The following chart shows the rapid rise in the number of women graduating with professional degrees in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The graph also includes data for women receiving professional law degrees in order to show the similarly dramatic increase in that field.

Graph: Percentage of 1st Professional Degrees Conferred to Women, 1950-2000

Source: U.S. National Center for Education Statistics

The rise in the number of women involved in the health sciences can also be seen by looking at statistics compiled by the National Science Foundation. The number of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees awarded to women in the natural and social sciences has risen steadily in the last decades of the 20th century.

Graph: Percentage Bachelor's Degrees Awarded to Women, 1975-1998

Source: National Science Foundation (NSF)


Graph: Percentage Master's Degrees Awarded to Women, 1977-1998

Source: National Science Foundation (NSF)


Graph: Percentage Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Women, 1970-1999

Source: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Return to By the Numbers