Women and minorities: their proportions grow in the professional work force Essay

The 1984 annual edition of Professional Women and Minorities records
the increasing participation of women and minorities in the professions,
noting in particular gains by women. The Scientific Manpower
Commission, which sponsored the study, reports these findings:

Women. In 1970, women earned 41.5 percent of the bachelor’s
degrees, 39.7 percent of th master’s degrees, and 13.3 percent of
the doctorate degrees awarded. However, by 1982, women were earning
more than half of the bachelor’s (50.3 percent) and master’s
(50.8 percent) degrees and 32 percent of the doctorates.

Despite the entry of so many women, growth of the professional
labor force has slowed since the 1960’s. This is especially
evident in science and engineering, where the number of bachelor’s
degrees rose less than 1 percent between 1974 and 1982, even though
there was a 21-percent increase in the number of women earning these

At the doctoral level, while total science and engineering degree
awards declined slightly from 1973 to 1983, the change resulted from a
drop of 15.4 percent in the number awarded to men and an increase in the
number awarded to women. By 1983, the proportion of women with these
degrees had risen to 25.7 percent from 12.9 percent in 1973.

Although the female proportion of scientists in the labor force is
still below their proportion in recent graduating classes, women now
make up 41 percent of life scientists, 23 percent of chemists, 18
percent of geological scientists, 30 percent of mathematicians and
computer specialists, 6 percent of engineers, and 57 percent of
psychologists. Their proportions are less in the doctoral population,
but are growing.

The growth in the number of engineers has been so rapid in the past
decade that their 5 percent proportion in the work force is well below
their present proportion among students and graduates. Their share of
bachelor’s degrees has grown from less than 1 percent in 1970 to
13.2 percent in 1983; from less than 1 percent to 9.0 percent at the
master’s level; and from 0.9 percent to 4.7 percent at the doctoral
level. The fall 1983 freshman class include 17 percent women.

Minorities. The report also shows that minorities are increasing
their participation in the engineering field–growing from 0.9 percent
of bachelor’s graduates in 1970 to 9.5 percent in 1983.
Asian/Pacific Islanders had the largest representation of any minority
group in this field, having doubled their share of all engineering
degrees since 1973. The number of black engineering degrees since 1973.
The number of black engineers graduating at the bachelor’s level
had risen from 657 in 1973 to 1,842 in 1983, while their proportion of
total graduates had moved from 1.5 to 2.5 percent.

Except for Asian/Pacific Islanders, minorities continue to be
underrepresented in the physical and mathematical sciences, where they
earned 9.6 percent of the bachelor’s, 7.4 percent of the
master’s, and 5.3 percent of the doctorate degrees given in 1982.
However, a significant percentage of these degrees, especially at the
graduate level, are earned by Asian Americans.

Particularly at the graduate level, the proportions of graduates
who are foreign nationals on temporary visas has grown significantly
over the decade. In engineering, for example, foreign students earned
3.3 percent of the bachelor’s, 11.9 percent of the master’s,
and 12.1 percent of the doctorate degrees awarded by U.S. schools in
1969. By 1983, their share had risen to 8.5 percent of the
bachelor’s, 25.8 percent of the master’s, and 39.4 percent of
the doctorate degrees.

Women and minorities. In the professional fields, both women and
minorities have substantially increased their proportion of both
graduates, and to a lesser extent, the labor force. Women earned 27
percent of the medical degrees awarded in 1983, and minorities, 10
percent. Their proportionate share in 1971 were 9.2 and 0.2 percent.
Women are now 16 percent of all physicians, and minorities, 17 percent.
Women are 16 percent of lawyers, 27 percent of pharmacists, and 38
percent of economists. Minorities constitute 5 percent of architects,
7.5 percent of dentists, and 5.5 percent of lawyers.

Women’s and minorities’ employment in higher education had grown slowly during the 1970s. Women continue to be
disproportionately overrepresented among nonfaculty researchers in
higher education, while men are disproportionately overrepresented in
the tenured faculty. In 1983, women accounted for 19 percent of faculty
in universities and 37 percent of faculty in public 2-year colleges.
Only 51 percent of the female faculty in all higher educational
institutions had tenure in 1983, compared with 70 percent of the male
faculty. Women’s proportion among scientists and engineers at
academic institutions has increased slowly. Between 1974 and 1983,
women rose from 13.4 to 17.6 percent of mathematicians; from 9.8 to 13
percent of chemists; from 19.7 to 24.8 percent of biologists; and from
21.3 to 26.5 percent of psychologists employed at academic institutions.
More than half of the college teachers in English, foreign languages,
health specialties, and home economics are women, but they are less than
5 percent of the total in engineering and physics.

THE FULL REPORT, entitled Professional Women and Minorities–A
Manpower Data Resource Service, fifth edition, presents a comprehensive
statistical picture of the professional work force. The foregoing
summary is based on the press release announcing the report. Copies of
the 288-page volume may be obtained from the Scientific Manpower
Commission, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 200236.
Price: $70.


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