N.H. women more likely than men to have college degrees

Monitor staff
Published: 7/10/2019 5:36:43 PM

Women in New Hampshire are more likely than men to have higher education, partly because female-majority occupations such as in health care and teaching are more likely to require college degrees than male-majority occupations like construction and manufacturing, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data.

Even so, New Hampshire women in 2017 made less in full-time wages than men at all levels of education, reflecting the discrepancy between historic pay levels in industries favored by the two genders.

Those preferences haven’t altered much in recent years, said Annette Nielsen, an economist with New Hampshire Employment Security and author of “Educational Attainment of New Hampshire’s Workforce,” which was released Tuesday.

“It’s stark that it hasn’t really changed,” Nielsen said Tuesday. “Maybe 10 to 15 years ago we thought that women could go into career paths where it’s not required to have higher education. But that’s really not occurring on a large scale.”

“It takes a very long time to change a cultural preference for what type of jobs we think of as male and female,” she said.

In 2017, according to Nielsen’s data, women outnumbered men almost 4-1 in the job category “health care and social assistance” and more than 2-1 in “educational services,” fields where a bachelor’s degree is often required to get any job.

At the same time, men outnumbered women more than 5-1 in construction and more than 2-1 in manufacturing and “wholesale trade,” fields where it is more often possible to get hired with a high school degree or through an apprenticeship.

“For most females, it’s really, really hard to see a path going straight from no post-secondary education and making a great living,” said Nielsen.

Nielsen said this might be starting to change, at least in health care.

“I think more are trying to find apprenticeships and career ladders in health care, so you don’t necessarily need right away a four-year degree,” she said. “(They are) trying to create a career ladder in that field; a path to a good wage.”

Average weekly wages for full-time workers was between one-third and one-quarter higher for men than women at all levels of education, from graduate degrees – $2,237 for men versus $1,606 for women – to less than a high school diploma, $808 versus $632.

The most balanced employment category by gender was retail trade, where men very slightly outnumbered women.

“Many people are surprised that retail trade is balanced, but they only think of certain types of shops – like clothing,” said Nielsen. Retail includes people working in places where males have traditionally dominated such as car dealerships and hardware stores.

New Hampshire has long been known as a well-educated state, but for people age 25 and over, the gender discrepancy is large. Women outnumbered men by a large margin in all levels of higher education, topping men by more than 10,000 for graduate, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, and by more than 5,000 for having some college but no degree.

Men outnumbered women by almost 20,000 in having only a high school degree or equivalent, and also outnumbered women within the relatively small number of state residents who had less than a high school degree.

This relative difference wasn’t the case decades ago, as shown in what are known as age cohorts. For New Hampshire people over 65, the reports said 37% of men had college degrees but only 28% of women did, the reverse of ratio in younger groups. In people aged 25 to 34, for example, almost half of women (46%) had a degree, far more than the 37% figure for men.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



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