Historic Rise of College-Educated Women in Labor Force Changes Workplace

Likhitha Butchireddygari:

The trend is likely to continue to rise. Since the 1980s, women have made up the majority of those seeking bachelor’s degrees. By 1999, women received 57% of bachelor’s degrees, and it has been that way more or less for almost two decades.

While 57% might appear to be a magic number for women with college degrees, it’s unclear whether the college-educated female workers will ever get to that point and how long it will take for it to do so. Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said several factors—including future demand for female-dominated professions, impact of automation on female-dominated professions and the child and elder care policy landscape—will shape the female share of the college-educated labor force.

The rise of these female workers is changing the way companies structure compensation and benefits packages to attract qualified women. According to human resources consulting firm Mercer ’s 2015 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, 6% of employers with 20,000 or more employees covered egg freezing. In 2018, that number nearly tripled to 17%. Smaller companies have seen smaller but steady growth in coverage of fertility services in recent years.