Highly educated women’s lives have changed significantly in the past two decades, according to a new study from Pew Research Center reported in the New York Times. Specifically, it finds that more women with postgraduate degrees have children as well.
The current study (using 2014 Census data) finds 22% of women ages 40 to 44 who have a master’s degree or higher are childless. That compares with 30% in 1994. The shift among women with an M.D. or Ph.D. is more dramatic: While 35% of such women were childless 20 years ago, that share now just 20%.
Highly educated women also are having larger families than in the past. About 60% of women with at least an M.A. have had two or more children, compared with 51% in 1994. Among all women with advanced degrees, the share with three or more children has risen 6 percentage points.
Pew says the trends among less-educated women are less easily traced. “Childlessness is down among women lacking a high school diploma and among women with a bachelor’s degree, but otherwise family size for these two groups has changed little since 1994. And among high school graduates, the share of women ages 40 to 44 with one child has increased, but there has been no change in the share with bigger families,” according to the study summary.
Highly educated women continue to have fewer children than less-educated women. More than a quarter (26%) of mothers who lack a high school diploma have four or more children. Among women with an M.A. or more, that share is just 8%.
Is the rise in families among highly educated women a result of women being more assertive and insistent on having both a career and a family? Share your reactions, opinions and experiences on GlassCeiling.com.