Gender gap in higher education will widen by 2020

Liz Goodwin

The Education Department predicts that 59 percent of all higher education students in 2020 will be women.

Women already outnumber men in higher education programs overall, and this imbalance is expected to grow. The share of women will grow by nearly 16 percent between 2009 and 2020, while male enrollment will only grow by 8 percent over the same period.

Right now, 57 percent of higher education students are women.

Education officials project that higher-ed enrollment overall will grow 11 percent between 2009 and 2020 to more than 23 million students. Women will outnumber men in undergraduate 2-year and 4-year programs as well as in other post-secondary education programs that give out master's and doctorate degrees.

Childless women under 30 are out-earning their male counterparts in several big cities in the country, but most American women are on average paid less than men. Research has also shown that what one chooses to study in college has the biggest effect on lifetime earnings among people who are educated to the same degree level. Even within a specific major, however, white men out-earn women and minorities.