Nationwide, about one in 18 women working full time earned $100,000 or more in 2009, a jump of 14 percent over two years, according to new census figures. In contrast, one in seven men made that much, up 4 percent.

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WASHINGTON — The number of women with six-figure incomes is rising at a much faster pace than it is for men.

Nationwide, about one in 18 women working full time earned $100,000 or more in 2009, a jump of 14 percent over two years, according to new census figures. In contrast, one in seven men made that much, up 4 percent.

The swelling ranks of well-paid women workers are attributable to almost three decades of growth in the number of women with the academic credentials to land good jobs. Women outnumber men at almost every level of higher education, with three women attending college and graduate school for every two men. They get more master’s degrees and more doctorates. Most law-school students are women, as are almost half of all medical students.

“We’re finally bearing the fruit from women getting so much higher education in the United States,” said Robert Drago, director of research at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “It’s the result of women entering into professional managerial careers.”

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Women’s advocates and groups representing professional women cautioned that a wage gap between the sexes remains persistent, and women are sparsely represented at the upper echelons of business. Just 3 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives are women.

“I’m happy to know there’s another dollar in the pocket of a woman,” said Ilene Lang, president of Catalyst, a group that works to improve business opportunities for women. “But women have been getting these degrees for a long time. And they’re still hitting a glass ceiling.”

The gains have come amid the worst recession in decades, a downturn that has been particularly harsh for men. Median pay and hours worked fell twice as much for men as for women. The share of workers earning $50,000 and more was flat for men but rose by 5 percent for women.

Those figures represent an economy in which manufacturing and construction, with more male workers than women, is declining while there has been growth in jobs requiring the higher education at which women excel.

The full-time work force remains predominantly male, with 56 million men and 42 million women. Only a small segment of either sex has passed the $100,000 benchmark: about 2.4 million working women and 7.9 million men earn that much.