FIGURE 5.1 Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), NSF, Arlington, VA, February 2000.

I've broken out the data to show just chemical engineers, as this is the principal discipline in the science and engineering fields that moves into the chemical industry. Note that the slowdown in the production of engineers in the early 1990s in response to the declining economic conditions of those years is in a full-swing reversal.

Figure 5.2 shows similar data for chemistry graduates, again by degree. We see a similar impact of the mini-recession in the early 1990s, followed again by a nice recovery; there are graduates out there from the disciplines relevant to most of the chemical industry. I deliberately selected these two segments for particular focus as they make up the majority of the technical hiring pool that we in industry draw from.

Figure 5.3 breaks out degrees by level and by gender. Starting in the 1980s, you can discern a relatively steady increase in the number of women choosing chemical engineering degrees at all levels. A similar trend can be seen in Figure 5.4 for chemistry degrees, although it started a bit earlier there.

Perhaps a slightly clearer indicator of the increasing number of females receiving science and engineering degrees can be seen in Figure 5.5, which shows women as a percentage of the total chemical engineering degrees granted. The numbers steadily increase over the years, so that today's graduating classes of chemical engineers are around 30 to 35 percent female. The dark horizontal line on Figure 5.5



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement