University of Pittsburgh
May 11, 2004

Pitt Report Finds That Women in the City of Pittsburgh Have Some of the Highest Levels of Educational Attainment In U.S. Cities

Benchmarks Report details quality of life for area women

PITTSBURGH—In the city of Pittsburgh, more than 16 percent of the female population ages 18-64 are enrolled in an undergraduate education program, ranking Pittsburgh first among the 70 largest cities in the United States, according to a new Benchmarks Report by the University of Pittsburgh. Funded by the Maurice Falk Fund, the study used 2000 census data to assess the social and economic status of women.

The report compares social and economic variables for women in the nation's 70 largest cities, 50 largest counties, and 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). It shows that in the Pittsburgh area young women ages 25-34 are highly educated and have obtained bachelor's degrees at higher rates than men.

The percentages of young women ages 25-34 with a bachelor's degree in the city of Pittsburgh (42%), Allegheny County (41%), and the Pittsburgh MSA (35%) are among the highest in the nation, ranking 13th, 15th, and 21st, respectively. The percentages of young women with a high school degree in the city (93%), county (93%), and MSA (94%) are also among the highest in the nation, ranking third, first, and first, respectively.

The Pittsburgh area successfully retained educated young women ages 25-34 from 1990 to 2000, who now outnumber educated young men in the region. The number of young women residents with a bachelor's degree increased by 9.5 percent in the city, 1.4 percent in the county, and 10.9 percent in the MSA.

"Our highly educated young workforce is a major advantage for regional economic development, and this workforce is increasing in size and improving in quality each year," said report author Ralph Bangs, codirector of the Urban and Regional Research Program in Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR).

The report also examined overall employment of Pittsburgh-area women of all ages and education levels. In 1999, 50.5 percent of women in the Pittsburgh MSA who worked any hours were employed full time, ranking in the lowest third (35th) for metropolitan areas. However, the number of women working full-time in the Pittsburgh MSA increased by 42,000 (16.7%) from 1990 to 2000, whereas full-time employment of men in the region only increased in that time span by 25,000 (6.1%).

Overall, employed women in the Pittsburgh region are concentrated in such low-paying jobs as food preparation and serving and office and administrative support. Pittsburgh-area women are underrepresented in such nontraditional occupations as construction trades, firefighting and law enforcement, architecture and engineering, and production, as well as in such traditional occupations as state and local government and educational services.

"For more than a decade, the University Center for Urban and Social Research has been committed to providing reliable information on living conditions in Southwestern Pennsylvania," said UCSUR Director Richard Schulz. "These data have been instrumental in shaping the policy agenda for the region."

The full report is available at