Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 207 pages) : color illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Arthur N Applebee

Committee Members

Abbe Herzig, Alan Wagner


Baccalaureate Trends, Biological Sciences, Engineering, Gender, Undergraduate Education, Technology, Science, Mathematics, Women in science, Sexism in education, Sex differences in education

Subject Categories

Education | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Higher Education


This explanatory study examines three focal periods in undergraduate STEM as related to the gender gap. Social, economic, and more general historical data are used to develop a clear and powerful explanation of baccalaureate trends in biology and engineering. Specifically, historical accounts are offered for 1) a ten-year period in undergraduate biology in which the number of baccalaureates awarded to men decreased 44 percent, while the number of baccalaureates awarded to women decreased one percent; 2) the start of a twenty-year period in which the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences increased 150 percent—from 36,068 degrees in 1989, to 90,003 bachelor's degrees in 2011; and 3) a ten year period in undergraduate engineering where female graduation rates septupled—this ten-year time period is the only instance of meaningful and noteworthy growth for women in undergraduate engineering over the past half century. Findings from each history reveal a common narrative underlying baccalaureate trends. Implications for undergraduate STEM are discussed.