[Source: Valarie Potell, Arizona Daily Star] — More than 420 University of Arizona students from the College of Science will be able to don a navy blue cap and gown this morning at the university’s commencement ceremony. Fewer than half will be women. But that long-standing trend may be changing. The proportion of women earning undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics increased by almost 4 percentage points nationally from 1995 to 2004, and by almost 10 points at UA from 1995 to 2006, an Arizona Daily Star analysis shows.
In 1995, there were nearly 193,000 bachelor’s degrees awarded in science and related fields to students across the country and 34.7 percent of those went to women, according to a December 2006 report from the National Science Foundation. In 2004, the most recent available year for national figures, those numbers increased to more than 233,000 total degrees, 38.4 percent of which went to women.
UA reported an increase as well, with women accounting for 30 percent of science degrees awarded in 1995 and 39.4 percent in 2006. The shift is “huge,” said Anne Padias, a chemistry professor and director of academic services for the department. That’s especially true, she said, because percentage shifts work both ways. “If you see a 5 percent increase, that means men went 5 percent down, too,” she said. In addition to the obvious benefits for women, the increase is a benefit for science, those involved say, because it means a wider range of people working on the world’s problems. But some say the statistics also show women still have more ground to gain. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]