Percentage of the U.S. population who have completed four years of college or more from 1940 to 2015, by gender

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1999 27.5%23.1%
1998 26.5%22.4%
1997 26.2%21.7%
1996 26%21.4%
1995 26%20.2%
1994 25.1%19.6%
1993 24.8%19.2%
1992 24.3%18.6%
1991 24.3%18.8%
1990 24.4%18.4%
1989 24.5%18.1%
1988 24%17%
1987 23.6%16.5%
1986 23.2%16.1%
1985 23.1%16%
1984 22.9%15.7%
1983 23%15.1%
1982 21.9%14%
1981 21.1%13.4%
1980 20.9%13.6%
1979 20.4%12.9%
1978 19.7%12.2%
1977 19.2%12%
1976 18.6%11.3%
1975 17.6%10.6%
1974 16.9%10.1%
1973 16%9.6%
1972 15.4%9%
1971 14.6%8.5%
1970 14.1%8.2%
1969 13.6%8.1%
1968 13.3%8%
1967 12.8%7.6%
1966 12.5%7.4%
1965 12%7.1%
1964 11.7%6.8%
1962 11.4%6.7%
1959 10.3%6%
1957 9.6%5.8%
1952 8.3%5.8%
1950 7.3%5.2%
1947 6.2%4.7%
1940 5.5%3.8%
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About This Statistic

This graph shows the percentage of the U.S. population who have completed four years of college or more from 1940 to 2015, by gender. In 2015, around 32.7 percent of women graduated college or obtained a higher educational degree.

Additional information on gender equality and education

Education is considered to be a cornerstone of the efforts to reduce societal inequality between men and women, particularly in regards to income differentials. More so, as the United States has become the leading service economy and service exporter globally. This mentality of the way forward for women being through highly skilled labor is reflected in the increased percentage of female high school graduates who immediately enroll in college. Although male percentages have increased as well, the greater increase in female immediate enrollees reflects a societal opinion that job opportunities outside of the service economy are more frequent for males.
The impact of increasing proportion of female graduates in comparison to their male counter parts is a potential explanation for the superior performance of females in the percentage of median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers in the United States between 1974 and 2014. While the increase in median weekly income of males with a bachelor’s degree or greater amounted to 15 percent, the corresponding figure for females was 31 percent. In regards to those without a four year degree, female high school graduates and those with some college or an associate degree education also saw median incomes rise by 3 percent while incomes for men in both those cohorts fell. Such trends may help to explain the increasing number of women entering into post-high school education and the percentage of students in community colleges by gender being in favor of females.

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