By the numbers

It's back-to-school time! As governments and their contractors look to the future supply of highly trained IT specialists, they often express concern about the availability of such people to replace those who soon will become eligible for retirement.

The Education Department has been tracking degrees earned in computer and information science since the 1970-71 school year.

Universities then granted a total of 128 doctorates and 1,588 master's degrees in the two sciences. By the 1999-00 school year, those numbers had increased to 777 doctorates and 14,264 master's degrees.

Gender differences continued throughout the 29-year period, according to statistics available at Back in '71, only three women received doctorates in the two sciences while in '00, 131 women earned them. But the gender difference narrowed over the period from a ratio of almost 42 to 1 to a ratio of about 5 to 1.

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