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Women now outnumber men in college-educated US workforce

The shift in representation in the U.S. workforce comes four decades after the number of U.S. women earning bachelor's degrees surpassed their male counterparts.

(CN) — Move over, Mad Men. Despite the pandemic’s great resignation, women now represent the majority of the United States’ college-educated workforce.

On Monday, the Pew Research Center released an analysis of government data that reveals women now represent 50.7% of the U.S. college-educated workforce, a number that has steadily increased since the fourth quarter of 2019.

According to Pew’s study, the second quarter of 2019 saw equal parts men and women in the U.S. workforce, with 29.1 million women over 25 with a bachelor’s degree. But by the second quarter of 2022, the number of women in the workforce had risen 7.5% to 31.3 million — outpacing the 4.9% increase of college-educated men in the workforce to 29.1 million.

Meanwhile, adults without a degree have been disproportionally affected since 2019, particularly women. Since 2019, the number of women without degrees in the workforce has decreased 4.6% while the number of men without degrees dropped by 1.3%. According to a separate Pew study published in January 2022, women over 25 without high school diplomas fell out of the workforce the most during the pandemic (-12.8%) while the number of their male counterparts fell by 4.9%.

“The upshot of these disparate changes in the labor force by gender and education is that women have increased their representation in the college-educated labor force since 2019,” the Pew researchers wrote, noting the increase of female representation comes nearly four decades after women surpassed men in the number of Americans earning a bachelor’s degree.

At the same time, the researchers said, “There has not been much change in the gender composition of the labor force that has some college or less education.”

Compositional changes within the participating U.S. labor force participation help account for these figures, as the number of adults in each group depends on who is working or looking for jobs. For instance, while the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees has increased since 2019, the share of college-educated women participating in the labor force has not changed (69.6%). Meanwhile, the number of college-educated men working or looking for work has declined by 1.5%, and fluctuating participation trends between genders is similar across other educational groups.

Of all U.S. workers over the age of 25, the number of participating men in the labor force has dropped 1.3% compared to a 0.3% decrease for women. However, the sharpest decline for women and men both occurred for those with “some college” experience at -1.7% and -2%, respectively. Of those holding a high school diploma or less, the labor force dropped by 0.6% for women 1.1% for men.

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