Just 30% of the world’s researchers are women. While a growing number of women are enrolling in university, many opt out at the highest levels required for a research career. But a closer look at the data reveals some surprising exceptions. For example, in Myanmar and Bolivia, women account for 86% and 63% respectively of scientists, compared to France with a rate of 26% or Ethiopia at 8%.
Women in Science – a new interactive tool – presents the latest available data for countries at all stages of development. Produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the tool lets you explore and visualize gender gaps in the pipeline leading to a research career, from the decision to get a doctorate degree to the fields of research women pursue and the sectors in which they work.
In Sweden, for example, women form the majority (60%) of students enrolled in a Bachelor’s programme, but their numbers decline as they move up the education ladder, accounting for 49% of doctoral students and only 36% of researchers. The data tool reveals this trend across every region, highlighting the conflict that many women face as they try to reconcile career ambitions with family-caring responsibilities.
Women researchers also tend to work in the academic and government sectors, while men dominate the private sector which offers better salaries and opportunities. This is the case even in countries with high shares of women scientists. In Argentina, for example, 52% of researchers are women. However, they account for only 29% of researchers employed in the private sector.
Perhaps most importantly, the data tool shows just how important it is to encourage girls to pursue mathematics and science at a young age. In every region, women researchers remain the minority in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In the Republic of Korea, for example, only 17% of researchers are women and they account for just 9% of those working in the field of engineering and technology.
By highlighting trends in different regions and countries, this tool provides a unique view on International Women’s Day (8 March). It is particularly useful for those interested in a global perspective on the gender gap in research, especially in the STEM fields. Available in English, French and Spanish, it can be easily embedded on your website, blog or social media sites.
It should be noted that this tool presents internationally comparable data produced by the Institute. This means that the indicators can be accurately compared across countries with very different contexts for women in science. Yet, due to methodological differences, data are missing for countries such as the United States or Canada. In addition, data are also missing for some developing countries that do not have the resources to collect or report R&D data. The Institute seeks to work with all countries to improve the availability of accurate data that can be compared internationally.
This post first appeared on UNESCO's Science, Technology and Innovation page, here.
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