America's Top STEM Schools For Women

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The pipeline for recruiting more women into STEM fields is rooted in hands-on experience at the collegiate level. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the total percentage of freshmen planning to major in science and engineering fields increased from about 8% in 2010 to about 45% in 2016. However, the percentage of women earning degrees in these fields has either remained basically stagnant or has declined; for instance, the percentage of women earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering went from 18.4% in 2010 to 20.1% in 2015 and the percentage of women earning bachelor’s degrees in physical sciences decreased from 40.9% in 2010 to 38.7% in 2015.

Higher education institutions are conscientious of the importance of combating gender bias in research. The Gendered Innovations project out of Stanford University analyzes sex and gender in research to focus on both increasing women’s participation and promoting gender equality in research. These institutions also offer fellowships for students to become involved in research during their undergraduate careers and over summer breaks, like the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for underrepresented groups in the humanities and social sciences at Harvard University or the Yale College First-Year Summer Research Fellowship in the Sciences and Engineering.

Forbes looked at the schools from the 2019 America’s Top Colleges List that are part of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s highest ranking — Doctoral universities: highest research activity; this is an exclusive categorization, with just over 100 schools in the nation earning the title. Of these institutions, the ones that made the list have the highest graduation rates for women, according to the most recent data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Many of the top research institutions have high graduation rates for females — all on this list are 93% or over — and enrollment between male and females are either evenly split or in many cases, favored toward females; less than half of the schools have more men enrolled than women, and even when there are more men, it is no more than 54% of the student body.

The majority of these institutions are private. Only five — the University of Virginia; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor — are public. According to the NSF's Higher Education Research and Development Survey, the average research expenditures in the 2017 fiscal year for the private institutions was over $757 million, and the average for the public institutions was over $989 million (the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is the second-highest institution overall for research expenditures and the top public institution for research expenditures with over $1.5 billion).

The top research institutions for women are:

20. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

20. Boston College

20. University of California, Los Angeles

20. University of Southern California

20. Vanderbilt University

20. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

20. University of California, Berkeley

16. Washington University in St. Louis

16. Johns Hopkins University

16. University of Chicago

16. Georgetown University

10. Tufts University

10. Rice University

10. Northwestern University

10. Columbia University

10. Cornell University

10. Stanford University

6. University of Virginia

6. University of Notre Dame

6. Brown University

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4. Duke University

4. University of Pennsylvania

1. Princeton University

1. Harvard University

1. Yale University

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The pipeline for recruiting more women into STEM fields is rooted in hands-on experience at the collegiate level. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the total percentage of freshmen planning to major in science and engineering fields increased from about 8% in 2010 to about 45% in 2016. However, the percentage of women earning degrees in these fields has either remained basically stagnant or has declined; for instance, the percentage of women earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering went from 18.4% in 2010 to 20.1% in 2015 and the percentage of women earning bachelor’s degrees in physical sciences decreased from 40.9% in 2010 to 38.7% in 2015.

Higher education institutions are conscientious of the importance of combating gender bias in research. The Gendered Innovations project out of Stanford University analyzes sex and gender in research to focus on both increasing women’s participation and promoting gender equality in research. These institutions also offer fellowships for students to become involved in research during their undergraduate careers and over summer breaks, like the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for underrepresented groups in the humanities and social sciences at Harvard University or the Yale College First-Year Summer Research Fellowship in the Sciences and Engineering.

Forbes looked at the schools from the 2019 America’s Top Colleges List that are part of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s highest ranking — Doctoral universities: highest research activity; this is an exclusive categorization, with just over 100 schools in the nation earning the title. Of these institutions, the ones that made the list have the highest graduation rates for women, according to the most recent data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Many of the top research institutions have high graduation rates for females — all on this list are 93% or over — and enrollment between male and females are either evenly split or in many cases, favored toward females; less than half of the schools have more men enrolled than women, and even when there are more men, it is no more than 54% of the student body.

The majority of these institutions are private. Only five — the University of Virginia; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor — are public. According to the NSF's Higher Education Research and Development Survey, the average research expenditures in the 2017 fiscal year for the private institutions was over $757 million, and the average for the public institutions was over $989 million (the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is the second-highest institution overall for research expenditures and the top public institution for research expenditures with over $1.5 billion).

The top research institutions for women are:

20. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

20. Boston College

20. University of California, Los Angeles

20. University of Southern California

20. Vanderbilt University

20. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

20. University of California, Berkeley

16. Washington University in St. Louis

16. Johns Hopkins University

16. University of Chicago

16. Georgetown University

10. Tufts University

10. Rice University

10. Northwestern University

10. Columbia University

10. Cornell University

10. Stanford University

6. University of Virginia

6. University of Notre Dame

6. Brown University

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4. Duke University

4. University of Pennsylvania

1. Princeton University

1. Harvard University

1. Yale University

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I am an editorial intern on the College Rankings Team and a rising junior at Ithaca College studying journalism and health policy and management. On campus, I'm news ed

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