News | 18 June 2018

Gender Gap in Science project aims to gather data on women in science worldwide

GenderInSITE has partnered with several international scientific unions as well as OWSD and UNESCO in the ICSU-funded project, A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?

This project aims to gather reliable data  across various regions, disciplines and career levels worldwide on women's participation in the mathematical and natural sciences, in order to inform actions that the participating unions and other organizations can take to increase this participation. It is led by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), through its Committee for Women in Mathematics, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC); other participating unions are the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM), the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), through ACM-W.

The project has three main components:

  •  The Global Survey of Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Scientists - The survey is planned to collect data on women's and men's development of interest in science, experiences in education and careers, family support, access to resources needed to conduct science, and opportunities to contribute to the scientific enterprise. Contrasts and common ground across regions and cultures, less developed and highly developed countries, men and women, mathematical and natural sciences, will be highlighted. The survey can be taken in any of seven languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese), and is hoped to reach at least 45,000 respondents in more than 130 countries. The survey takes only about 15 minutes to complete, and can be taken at: 
  • Joint data-backed study on publication patterns - A recent study on publication patterns in mathematics showed a systemic gender imbalance; though women mathematicians grew greatly in number over recent decades, they continued to publish less than men at the beginning of their careers, and to leave academia at a higher rate. Using a similar methodology, the project will study publication patterns in other fields including physics, chemistry, astronomy, and if possible biology and computer science, across countries and regions, to understand common and discipline-specific issues and identify specific areas of inequality at which to target recommendations.
  • Database of good practices - There are many initiatives around the world that aim to enhance the participation of girls and women in science and mathematics. Which ones work? What is the evidence for effectiveness? Can effective practices developed in one place be used in other contexts? An online database of good practices will aggregate and organize information on existing initiatives, and analyze their effectiveness where possible to provide guidance and support for the development and evaluation of new initiatives. The database will be hosted by IMU.

    GenderInSITE will provide strategic insight to the project's coordinating committee, assist in dissemination of the global survey, and contribute to collecting information on existing women-in-STEM initiatives. More information about the motivation behind the project, each individual project component, and the organization of the project can be found on the project website linked below.