Women and Education

Educational Attainment

Women in Montgomery County today are more likely than men to have attained four years of college or more -- a trend that has been true since 2006. The most recent figures, based on historical iPUMS data drawn from the Census American Community Survey, show that 42.6% of all women have at least four years of college, compared to 38.5% of all men in 2016.

change over time in percent of males and females with at least four years of education
Benchmarking, based on the most recent 5 year estimates provided by the Census American Community Survey, shows the extraordinarily high level of educational attainment among women (aged 25 and over) in Montgomery County, with County women holding graduate degrees at almost triple the national rate -- and six percentage points higher than the DC metro region average.
Female professionals in Montgomery County are much more likely than the national average to hold jobs in Management, business, and finance as well as Computer engineering, and science. Female job holders in the County are much less likely than the national average to work in a service, production, sales, or office support occupation.

Fields of Study

Men and women specialize in different fields (as measured by college degree held), but there are signs of convergence over time. Today, only 38% of women degree holders specialized in a science or engineer field, compared to 57% of their male counter parts. However, among younger professionals (25-39), the percent of women degree holders specializing in such fields grows by 5 percentage points.

distribution of fields of study by males and females

Benchmarking: Highly Skilled and Educated Women in the Workforce

In preparation for the County's Amazon HQ2 bid, CountyStat conducted a benchmarking exercise to examine how the County's female workforce compares to other jurisdictions, using data from the Census American Community Survey Public Use Micro-Dataset for 2011-2015. The County's female workforce stands out on a number of important metrics, including:
  • Montgomery County has the 4th most female PhD's among all Counties in the United States (despite placing only 40th in total population). Position #1-3 go to New York County (Manhattan), Middlesex County (Cambridge MA), and Los Angeles County -- each of which is far more populous, with at least 50% more population (and ten times as many residents in the case of LA County).  Regionally, Montgomery County has more female PhDs than Fairfax County and the District of Columbia combined (and twice as many as either individually), with 16,831 female PhD holders.
  • Montgomery County has the highest percentage of women with a PhD, among mid and large sized counties (i.e. those with at least 150,000 residents): specifically, 4.5% of all women in Montgomery County, 25 years or older, have a PhD. 
  • Earnings for women with a graduate or professional degree in Montgomery County are fourth highest in the nation, among mid and large sized counties (i.e. those with at least 150,000 residents). Position #1-3 go to Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California (i.e. Silicon Valley) and Alexandria VA. By contrast, the earnings of males with a graduate or professional degree in Montgomery County rank only #14 on this same metric. 
  • 42% of college-educated women in Montgomery County between the age of 25 and 39 have a science or engineering degree. This is high by national standards and places the County at #18 among mid and large sized counties. For comparison, 57% of college-educated men in the County have a science or engineering degree. Montgomery County has more female workers in computer, engineering, and science occupations than Fairfax County, despite having 100,000 fewer residents. 

Montgomery County Public Schools: Performance of Girls

85% of girls in the County attend public school between grades 1 and 12 (the same share as for boys). Girls account for 48.5% of MCPS enrollment (2016). 
AP and IB Courses
Girls in the Public School system have an AP exam pass rate of 74%, slightly below the 77% for boys. Girls, however, take far more AP exams: 10,045 vs. 8,423 taken by boys. In fact, Girls are 10 percentage points more likely than boys to be enrolled in at least one AP or IB course (see chart below).
SAT Scores

Girls and boys perform roughly on par on the SAT Reading section, with girls scoring an average of 546 and boys scoring an average of 543 in 2016. Girls outperform boys on the math section, scoring an average of 1113 vs. an average of 1080 for boys in 2016. Math scores have decreased slightly over time. 

Evidence of Learning

Information from the MCPS Data Dashboards (2017) also show that girls outperform boys, in both literacy and math across grades and time (with the one exception of second grade math). This data is collected by MCPS's student achievement monitoring system, which is used to determine whether students are learning and learning enough. A student shows "Evidence of Learning" by attaining success on at least two measurement types (classroom, district, and/or external). 

Indicators of Student Vulnerability

The MCPS At a Glace report for the 2017-2018 school year reports that girls are slightly less likely to receive free or reduced meals (FARMS) and to require English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training (see chart below). In addition, boys account for 71% of students at County Special Schools and Alternative Programs.

MCPS Teachers and Staff Gender Breakdown

Women dominate the MCPS workforce, accounting for 79% of all MCPS professional staff and 74% of supporting services staff.

Drop-out Rates and Disconnected Youth

Women are 40% less likely to drop out of high school than boys, with a drop out rate of 4.5% vs. 7.7% for boys among the class of 2017 (data from the Maryland Report Card), with 455 boys dropping out and 249 girls.
Disconnected youth are defined as residents between the ages of 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor employed (i.e. unemployed or not looking for a job). Estimates by the Aspen Institute show that, nation-wide, 1 in 8 youth in America fall into this category. In Montgomery County, 9% of County residents in this age range classify as "disconnected," according to a 2017 study conducted by CountyStat and the Department of Health and Human Services using 2011-2015 US Census American Community Service data. Women and girls account for half of all disconnected youth, with an estimated 4,800 women and girls not active in school or work. This number drops to 4,200 when excluding the 15% of the women and girls in this group who live with their own child and who may therefore be working as a stay-at-home mother.