For the first time more women than men get PhD

In the past academic year more women than men got a PhD at Dutch universities. That has never happened before. There were also a record number of PhDs awarded, after a dip during the coronavirus crisis.

photo Studio Romantic / Shutterstock

The difference may be small but it is worth noting nonetheless: in the academic year 2020/21 2,612 women were awarded a PhD at a Dutch university, as against 2,607 men. The difference is just five.

In the previous year men had the upper hand, by a margin of 24. In all the years before that the difference was considerably greater.

During the coronavirus crisis some PhD students suffered delays and the number of PhDs awarded fell; that has now been rectified. More than 5,200 PhD graduation ceremonies took place last year.

Since the year 2000 the annual number of PhDs awarded has more than doubled. Almost 40 percent of all the PhDs awarded were in the field of health and well-being, which attracts a relatively large number of women.

Men still have a substantial majority in the natural sciences and engineering. But there are fewer PhD students in those fields.

Familiar picture

At TU/e there is also an increase in the number of females who obtained a PhD. Nota bene for PhD students, no academic years are used in the data of TU/e. Calendar years were used instead as PhD students are employed and not regular students. The year 2020 has a clear dip in the number of promotions, a clear effect of corona.

The first graph shows the number of promotions per year stacked for men and women. The second graph shows the percentage of promotions by women. Both the number of promotions and the percentage of promotions by women are increasing.


Sources figure 1: Statistics Netherlands and OCWincijfers


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