Women in Science – Explore the Data for Countries Worldwide
In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2014, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has released an interactive tool that helps to visualise data about women in science. The numbers are stark, showing that women are still underrepresented in science around the world. In this guest post, Amy Otchet, Head of Data Outreach, Advocacy and Publications at UIS explains the big issues…
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 Bolivia, women account for 63% researchers, 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 science that 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 researchers. 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 (8th March). It is particularly useful for those interested in a global perspective on the gender gap in research, especially in the STEM fields.
Amy Otchet is the head of Data Outreach, Advocacy and Publications at the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in Montreal, Canada.
The Women in Science interactive tool is available in English, French and Spanish, and can be easily embedded. The tool presents internationally comparable data produced by the UIS allowing accurate comparisons across countries with very different contexts for women in science. Some data are missing due to methodological differences or lack of resource for data collection.
The Wellcome Trust is committed to funding talented researchers no matter what their gender. We are keen to identify and address any barriers to success and use information from our Career Tracker to follow the progress of our researchers’ careers.