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We can expect 2019 to be the year that women are the majority of the college-educated workforce, a significant milestone in gender parity, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. By the first quarter of this year, 29.5 million women in the labor force had at least a bachelor’s degree, which matches the number of college-educated men in the workforce (29.3 million).
Women’s share of the college-educated workforce ages 25 and older has increased 13 percentage points from 2000. Currently, women comprise 50.2 percent of the college-educated workplace compared to 45.1 percent in 2000. Women still remain at less than half of the overall workforce at 46.7 percent.
This is an important milestone because educational attainment often correlates with higher paying jobs and greater economic independence for women. While women are only recently inching towards gender parity in the college-educated workforce, they have been the majority of college-educated adults for the past decade. Women now earn about 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees.
The gender disparity in the workforce, compared to the parity found among college-educated adults, might be due to the fact that women are less likely than their male counterparts to enter the workforce. For instance, in 2018, 69.9 percent of college-educated women participated in the labor force compared to 78.1 percent of college-educated men.
Despite becoming a majority in the college-educated workforce, women still face a gender wage gap at this level of educational attainment. The median earnings of college-educated women is $51,600 compared to $74,900 for college-educated men. However, college-educated women have greater median earnings than women overall—$51,600 compared to $36,000, respectively. As more college-educated women join the workforce, this will increase women’s earning potential and help narrow the gender wage gap.