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Degreewise, women dominate in once-male bastions

WASHINGTON -- Women now earn the majority of diplomas in fields men used to dominate -- from biology to business -- and have caught up in pursuit of law, medicine, and other advanced degrees.

Federal statistics released yesterday show women now also earn the majority of bachelor's degrees in business, history, and biological and social sciences . The same is true for traditional strongholds such as education and psychology.

And in disciplines where women trail men, they are gaining ground, earning larger numbers of degrees in math, physical sciences, and agriculture.

The findings were part of a 379-page report, ``The Condition of Education," a yearly compilation of statistics that give a picture of academic trends.

Women now account for about half the enrollment in professional programs such as law, medicine, and optometry. That is up from 22 percent a generation ago.

The number of women enrolled in undergraduate classes has grown more than twice as fast as it has for men.

Despite the gains, women earn about 76 percent as much as men, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and are underrepresented in full-time faculty jobs, particularly in fields such as engineering and math.

``We clearly have a long way to go," said Van Ummersen, vice president of the council's Center for Effective Leadership.

While women make gains, the enrollment of men in professional degree programs is declining.

Boys need to have their aspirations raised just as girls have, said Tom Mortenson, senior scholar for The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.

``Women have been making educational progress, and the men are stuck," he said. ``They haven't just fallen behind women. They have fallen behind changes in the job market."

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