A U.S. Gender Milestone: More Women Have Advanced Degrees Than Men

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>Data from the past half century has revealed a dramatic gender reversal in our nation's colleges--more and more women embarked on higher education, just as men often seemed to come up short. The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin chronicled this trend in her 2010 summer cover story, "The End of Men," emphasizing the fact that for every two men who earn college degrees, three women would do the same. As Rosin observed:

Men, it turned out, had a harder time committing to school, even when they desperately needed to retool. They tended to start out behind academically, and many felt intimidated by the schoolwork. They reported feeling isolated and were much worse at seeking out fellow students, study groups, or counselors to help them adjust. Mothers going back to school described themselves as good role models for their children. Fathers worried that they were abrogating their responsibilities as breadwinner.

The trend continues with a new milestone, according to recent census figures. Several new statistics reflect the same observations Rosin made a year ago. Women make up half the U.S. workforce, and the number of stay-at-home mothers is declining. But one landmark new statistic stands out among the census's education numbers. American women, the AP reports, have, for the first time in our country's history, come to earn more advanced university degrees than men:

"The gaps we're seeing in bachelor's and advanced degrees mean that women will be better protected against the next recession," said Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint who is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

"Men now might be the ones more likely to be staying home, doing the more traditional child rearing," he said.

Among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million U.S. women have master's degrees or higher, compared to 10.5 million men. Measured by shares, about 10.2 percent of women have advanced degrees compared to 10.9 percent of men -- a gap steadily narrowing in recent years. Women still trail men in professional subcategories such as business, science and engineering.

When it comes to finishing college, roughly 20.1 million women have bachelor's degrees, compared to nearly 18.7 million men -- a gap of more than 1.4 million that has remained steady in recent years. Women first passed men in bachelor's degrees in 1996.

Read the full story at the Associated Press.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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