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Clarifying the stats on the educational attainment of women and men in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported (November 3, 2015) the rate at which women are earning bachelor’s degrees have “stumbled” since the mid-1990’s. The report, using a limited set of data derived from U.S. Census sources, only counts women and men employed full-time and with bachelor’s degrees and higher.

A broader approach that analyzes the population of all women and men ages 25-65 with an associate degree or higher in Utah, regardless of employment status, paints a more complete picture:  The percentage of women with an associate degree or higher increased from 27.4 percent during 1992-1995 to 43.3 percent during 2011-2015. At the same time, the percentage of men with an associate degree or higher increased from 34.6 percent to 42.4 percent over the same time period. In other words, the educational attainment gap between women and men narrows from 7.4 percent to 0.9 percent. Further, using those same time periods (1992-1995, and 2011-2015), the percentage of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 20.1 percent to 29.9 percent.

Utah degree attainment by gender and years

Using the same comparative time periods (1992-1995, and 2011-2015), the gap between male and female degree attainment in Utah (0.9 percent)  is much smaller than the gap nationally (4.7 percent). Interestingly, the U.S. Census recently announced that the most recent American Communities Survey shows for the first time, nationally, women are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than men.

Percent of the U.S. population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher by gender, 2005-2014

US-Ed Attainment-byGender

Nationally, women outpace men in higher education achievement.  Utah’s attainment closely mirrors the population — 50 percent women, 50 percent men.  However, more women graduates tend to be at the associate degree level with fewer graduates at the graduate level.  This has been consistent over time with some improvement in the percentage or women earning associate and bachelor degrees.