Washington, DC

—Analysis by the

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

finds that although women make up the majority of community college students, men and women in community college pursue very different degrees, with women generally training for lower-paying careers. Women with associate degrees earn, on average, 75 percent of what their male counterparts earn.

Less than 43 percent of fields of study at the associate degree level are gender balanced: in only 14 of 33 fields covered in the analysis were women a proportional number of associate degree recipients. (If all the fields were gender-balanced, 33 of 33 would have a proportionate share of women). Women make up more than 80 percent of the graduates in family and consumer sciences (which includes child care training), legal studies, social sciences, education, and health. Men make up more than 80 percent of the graduates in fields associated with construction, mechanics, precision production trades, transportation, and engineering-related technology. Men also comprise at least 70 percent of graduates in engineering, mathematics, and computer science.

According to another recent IWPR


, the share of women pursuing degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields at community colleges is falling, despite the continued growth in jobs in these industries. In 1997, women earned 33.8 percent of these degrees but that number dropped to 27.5 percent in 2007.

This year marks the 40


anniversary of the passage of the Title IX, the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

“We have a long way to go before we realize Patsy Mink’s dream of full educational and career equity, where women and men have true access to a full range of options appropriate to their skills. Women and girls, as well as men and boys, should be acquainted with high quality career paths that may fall outside of traditional gender norms,” said Barbara Gault, IWPR Vice President and Executive Director.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.