Women left behind as scientific enterprise grows

by Beryl Lieff Benderly, sciencemag.org, November 30, 2015
The number of researchers at work today throughout the world—about 7.8 million—has grown 21% in the past 6 years, according to the UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030, published 10 November. “This remarkable growth is also reflected in the explosion of scientific publications,” which increased by 23.4% between 2008 and 2014—from 1,029,471 to 1,270,425 a year—the report adds.
….
Many of the world’s students are women, including 53% of those earning bachelor’s or master’s degrees, “but their numbers drop off abruptly at PhD level,” the report notes. At that level, men constitute 57% of those completing degrees. “The discrepancy widens at the researcher level, with men now representing 72% of the global pool. The high proportion of women in tertiary education is, thus, not necessarily translating into a greater presence in research.” Overall, “[t]he glass ceiling [is] still intact,” with “[e]ach step up the ladder of the scientific research system see[ing] a drop in female participation until, at the highest echelons of scientific research and decision-making, there are very few women left.” In addition to constituting a minority of only 28% of researchers worldwide, women “also tend to have more limited access to funding than men and to be less represented in prestigious universities and among senior faculty, which puts them at a further disadvantage in high-impact publishing,” the report observes. Read more here…

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