Bachelor Degrees Granted in STEM and non-STEM Disciplines by Gender

Rebecca Carr
Director
Association of American Universities (AAU) Data Exchange
 
I have been working on a project that looks at the change in number and proportion of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.  This chart uses data from IPEDS Completions to evaluate gender distribution over time and by major field (STEM, non-STEM). The display has four quadrants.  The two on the left show the raw number of bachelor degree recipients by year and field.  The two on the right show the overall distribution by gender with a reference line at 50 percent.
 
I used the list of fields designated as STEM from Immigration and Customs Enforcement; that list is used to determine whether students can extend their time in the U.S. or not and thus has very practical applications.  Because I know my audience, I used pink and blue to represent gender and did not present a legend.  If I were creating this for a more generic audience, I’d have used a legend.
This chart makes four main points: (1) there are considerably more bachelor degrees granted in non-STEM fields than in STEM fields, (2) the number of bachelor degrees granted has grown over time, and (3) women are over-represented among bachelor degree recipients in non-STEM fields, but quite under-represented among bachelor degree recipients in STEM fields, and (4) the proportion of degrees earned by women remains fairly constant.

 
 

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Total Comments: 2
 
Gary posted on 10/9/2013 6:02 PM
I think this is great - colors are meaningful, faceting is understandable, and and the layout is intuitive. I would prefer to see the number of degrees presented as a population pyramid (centered down the middle where the bars stack with x-axis split in two) or dodged side-by-side so that the male counts are more observable. The point might be more vividly made this way, too.
Liz posted on 5/15/2014 2:46 PM
I like that you have shown the proportion and the number together - both are usually important pieces of the story.

I wonder, like Gary, if the numbers and trends for males will be more effectively communicated if you unstack the bars. After looking at this, I see first how females are more than half (maybe 60%, growing in number but maybe not significantly in percentage) of the bachelor's degrees in non-STEM disciplines and less than half of the STEM disciplines (less than 40%, with growth in numbers and probably percents, although hard to quantify). I also see quickly that non-STEM bachelor's generate most of the degrees awarded, and would be interested to know what the rate of change in women in STEM is compared to the overall rate of change in STEM. I could calculate some additional ratios with maybe some anchor figures for 1995 and 2009 males and females, STEM and nonSTEM. Although you may not have intended this chart to be all things to all people, this would make it easier to quantify these trends and expand the usefulness of the chart.

Thanks for your contribution!