Proportion of Female Graduates from Odum School of Ecology Increases Over Time

When I was searching an email last night, I came across an old email calling for graduate student symposium speaker nomination. A list of Odum School of Ecology alumni was attached. I decided to analyze how the gender proportion of graduates changes over time. Here are what I found.

I chose to only use data from 1980 to 2015 because data before 1980 seems to be sparse and data in 2016 were incomplete. I determined the gender of each graduate based on the first name and internet search. The gender data should be fairly accurate but there may be a few errors. From 1980 to 2015, there are 528 graduates from Ecology. Of all the graduates, 265 are female and 263 are male.

First of all, total number of graduates increased sharply from 1991 to 1998. After that, the total number of graduates remained stable for a few years and then dropped to a lower number around 2007 or 2008.


Second, proportion of female graduates increases over time. In the early days, most of graduates are male. But it gradually trends towards more female graduates. In the past 15 years, we have more female graduates in 13 years.


Third, if we look into PhD and MS graduates separately, the proportion of female increases in both categories. For PhD graduates, it changes from more male to more female. For MS graduates, the gender composition is fairly balanced since inception and gradually moves towards more female.


Fourth, if we fit the proportion of female graduates for PhD, MS and combined using logistic regressions, we can estimate the year at which gender composition of graduate is balanced. For all graduates, female and male proportion became roughly equal around 2001 (SE=2.05). For PhD graduates, the year when we reach gender balance is 2006 (SE=3.9). For MS graduates, the year of reaching reach gender balance is 1996 (SE=5.9).


About Chao Song

I am a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University.
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