Table 3: Number of degrees in Sociology, 1980-1994

First Degrees

(not only Honours)% women students, previous year

Higher Degrees% women students, previous year Total Total 1980 1326 [no data] 742 [no data] 1981 1355 64 783 54 1982 1305 67 800 55 1983 1273 68 828 56 1984 1205 67 776 56 1985 721 69 429 58 1986 681 66 380 53 1987 664 67 299 57 1988 622 69 372 52 1989 642 68 358 60 1990 664 69 326 53 1991 704 69 436 63 1992 765 69 421 57 1993* 827 68 489 61 Source, consecutive volumes of

University Statistics (Students and Staff),Universities' Statistical Record.

* The sequence cannot be continued here, as the published statistics' format changed; although numbers graduating in 'Sociology' are still given, it is impossible to believe that the definition used is the same when the numbers nearly quintuple from one year to the next.The official statistics provided have varied in form over the years. The major change was the move in 1979-80 from reporting numbers graduating each year, to giving instead the numbers studying for a degree in the year; this has made it necessary to divide the data into two tables. We get as near as possible to a consistent sequence by estimating the proportion of women graduates in a year from the numbers studying for a degree the year before. This is probably more accurate for first degrees than for higher ones, given the variable time taken to complete PhDs and the rates of non-completion. The figures for higher degrees unfortunately do not distinguish between MAs and PhDs before 1989.

The sharp drop in 1985 invites questions about the consistency of the figures. Some subject definitions used in them changed, but this did not obviously affect Sociology; HESA retains no relevant records. However, in the early '80s national student number targets were cut, and more of the cuts fell on arts and social science; for postgraduates, ESRC cut its expenditure on student grants sharply. Fortunately, for our purposes here alternative possible explanations do not affect the general argument.