An Update on Gender Equality in Research and Innovation

Elseiver, a Dutch academic publishing company specializing in STEM, has recently released a report analyzing the status of global gender parity in research and innovation.

In 2022, women represented 41 percent of all active researchers; a significant increase of 11 percentage points from women’s representation in 1992. Despite this progress, some gender disparities remain among different research disciplines, particularly in STEM fields. Women represented only 39 percent of all STEM research positions in 2022. The only specific STEM fields in which women represented the majority of researchers were nursing (68 percent), psychology (61 percent), and immunology and microbiology (52 percent). On the other hand, women researchers were especially underrepresented in mathematics (27 percent), engineering (28 percent), and physics and astronomy (28 percent).

Additionally, the report found increasingly wider gender gaps in researcher representation among career cohorts. Women represented 45 percent of all early-career scientists with less than five years of experience, but only 27 percent of advanced career researchers with over 20 years of experience. The report also uncovered disparities in women’s representation based on location, but the United States is ahead of the global average, with women accounting for 42 percent of active American researchers.

Progress was made in grant funding as well, but not enough to equal the representation of active women researchers. From 2009 to 2022, the average share of women among all grant awardees increased from 29 percent to 37 percent. Furthermore, women remain vastly underrepresented in patent output. Women only appear as filers on 26 percent of all applications, whereas men appear on 97 percent of all applications.

Women were found to be more likely than men to engage in multidisciplinary research and to publish their research in open access spaces. Although improvements have been made in publication output, the report found women are still less likely than men to be published, and less likely to have their work cited by other researchers. Advanced-career women were the only exception to this trend, as they were found to be cited slightly more than their male peers in 2018 to 2022.

While the authors acknowledge the significant progress made in women’s research participation, they urge institutions and policymakers to make conscious efforts to close the persistent gender gaps in global research and innovation. Their recommendations include prioritizing the retention of early-career women researchers into advanced career stages, developing incentive programs for women to participate in innovation endeavors, and continually measuring and tracking inclusion and diversity in research.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields

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