Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Education Pursued Differs Between Men and Women
by Shawna Sykes
Published Mar-20-2013

According to 2011 American Community Survey estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, about 10.6 percent of Oregonians ages 25 and older have not achieved at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Women have been slightly more successful in achieving either a high school diploma or higher education (90.1 percent) while about 88.5 percent of Oregon men have achieved a high school diploma or higher education.

Oregon women aged 25 and older had slightly higher success rates than men in attending some college and completing an associate's degree. The percentage of Oregon men and women who achieved a bachelor's degree was nearly equal, with 18.6 percent of women and 18.2 percent of men earning a bachelor's degree. Men had a higher percentage of graduate or professional degree achievers at 11.5 percent compared to 10.4 percent of Oregon women.

The percentage of Oregon women with a bachelor's degree or higher education has more than tripled from 8.2 percent in 1970 to 29 percent in 2011. This is a much faster growth rate than the increase in their male counterparts, growing from 14.1 percent of the population with bachelor's degrees or higher education in 1970 to 29.7 percent in 2011.

Connie Green was the first person in her family to attend college. She completed her bachelor's degree in telecommunications with a career in television and radio broadcasting on her radar. Though she volunteered at the college's public television station, the industry is very competitive and difficult to break into. Connie went on to complete a master's degree in counseling, and began working at Linn-Benton Community College. She says, "Community colleges are an amazing place with lots of different people. From the 15 to 18-year-old high school drops outs, to the 18 year olds looking to save money on their education, to the adults taking classes to further their career choices, and the retired individuals just learning some new skills. The classrooms in the community colleges are very rich. Everyone is there because they want to learn. All of the students want something better."

After many years of experience at community colleges in Oregon as well as work as a private consultant, Connie now serves as the President of Tillamook Bay Community College. She loves working with people and is not afraid, when taking on something new, to admit she doesn't have all the answers. "You don't have to be the expert. Learning new things is easy. Listen to others. Be curious." She says, "What I've done my whole life is followed a passion. No job is perfect, but do you get excited about what you do?" It's obvious that Connie does.

Graph 1
2011 Oregon educational attainment of pop 25 years and older by gender
Younger Women More Likely Than Men to Have College Degrees
Examining educational attainment levels by age groups for Oregon's population paints an interesting picture. Among the population aged 18 to 34 years old, the percentage of Oregon women with college education is greater than men in every higher education category. As we look at educational attainment levels of Oregon's older population (age 45 and over), however, men have higher percentages of their population than women with a bachelor's degree or higher education.

Graph 2
Oregon educational attainment by gender ages 18 to 34