Female researchers on the rise

The share of women among researchers has increased between four and 11 percentage points over the last 20 years.

Across 12 regions of the world, women’s scholarly articles are cited or downloaded at similar rates to men’s, while women tend to publish fewer articles than men on average, demonstrating a gender balance in terms of research impact. These are among two of the key findings presented in a new global study, released today by Elsevier, the information analytics company specialising in science and health.

Drawing upon high-quality data sources, analytical expertise, and a unique gender disambiguation methodology, the report, 'Gender in the Global Research Landscape', measures research performance and gender representation over 20 years (the periods 1996-2000 and 2011-2015), across 12 geographies and 27 disciplines.

'Progress is occurring in terms of increased participation of women in research, albeit incrementally and unevenly, which is a sign that efforts to encourage women to engage in research, including in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, are gaining traction,' said Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier’s vice president of strategic alliances-global academic relations.

Between 1996 and 2000, among the 12 countries/regions that were studied, only Portugal had a women researcher population greater than 40 per cent; by the period 2011-2015, nine countries/regions had a women researcher population of 40 per cent or more. These countries/regions are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The remaining countries with still fewer than 40 percent women researchers are: Chile, Mexico, and Japan.

General trends found across all countries/regions that were studied are:
Women are generally less internationally mobile than men; women are less likely to collaborate internationally on research papers;
Health and Life Sciences fields of research are found to have the highest representation of women while Physical Sciences are dominated by men;
Women are slightly less likely than men to collaborate across academic and corporate sectors on research articles.

“A lot of discussions around gender disparity are driven by experience and speculation. While that’s a good place to start, there is a knowledge gap that makes it difficult to move to effective interventions and policy. With this report we bring empirical insight to those discussions. This data can be used – and built upon – by research leaders, research funding organizations, government and policy makers working on themes critical to STEM industry,” Falk-Krzesinski said.

The report is based on Elsevier’s SciVal and Scopus data combined with name data from social media, applied onomastics, and Wikipedia. The analyses were further informed by input from stakeholder organizations and individuals around the world including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

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