Growth rate for women in science higher than that for men

October 28, 2003

Brussels, Oct 2003

New statistics on scientific education and employment show that while women remain in the minority, their annual growth rate is higher than that of men.

'She Figures 2003' brings together various data on women working in public research, taking into account levels of seniority reached, the distribution of research funding, and representation on scientific boards.

'This progress is most welcome and encouraging, but we should not react to it with complacency,' writes EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin in the preface to the report.

In 2001, women made up 34 per cent of those working in research in the public sector. This is only a slight increase from the 1999 figure of 32 per cent, but the growth rate for women is more than double that for men: 8 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent.

The results indicate strong gender patterns - women remain under-represented in engineering and natural sciences, but form the majority of people performing research in humanities and social sciences in many countries. However, even in these fields, there are relatively few women in leadership positions.

'In fact there appears to be a serious dichotomy in career outcomes for men and women in academia,' states She Figures. While women accounted for 31 per cent of those working in academia in 2000, only 13.2 per cent of senior academic positions were occupied by women. Once again, however, this is an increase of nearly two per cent since 1999.

The contribution by women to scientific decision making is illustrated by representation on scientific boards at academies and universities. With the exception of Portugal, women accounted for less than 50 per cent of board members in 2001 in all EU Member States and associated countries. The figure was lower than 15 per cent in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Estonia.

Data on the attribution of research funding reveal that male applicants are consistently slightly more successful than female applicants. The exceptions to the rule are Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, Cyprus and Iceland, while women have the lowest research funding success rates in the UK.

She Figures is aimed at broadening the existing base of descriptive statistics, and is the result of two years of collaboration between the European Commission and statistical correspondents from the Helsinki Group on women and science.

To access She Figures 2003, please consult the following web address:
http:///europa.eu.int/comm/research/scien ce-society/pdf/she_figures_2003.pdf

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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