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News | 05 February 2020

Preliminary Report of the Gender Gap in Science Project, Online Now!

In 2019, GenderInSITE partnered with several global STEM unions on an ISC-funded project on the Gender Gap in Science: A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?

The preliminary report is now available on their website or to download via the link below.

The project comprised of three main "tasks": a global survey of scientists, a data-backed study on publications, and a database of good practice.

The major findings of the survey include:

  • Women’s experiences in both educational and employment settings are consistently less positive than men’s.
  • Over a quarter of women respondents across the sciences reported personally experiencing sexual harassment at school or work.
  • Women were over 14 times more likely than men to report being personally harassed.
  • Women were 1.6 times more likely than men to report interruptions in their studies.
  • Women reported less positive relationships with their doctoral advisors, and lower doctoral program quality.

The publications study found that:

  • The so-called "productivity gap"is becoming narrower, although in recent cohorts this trend shows signs of stagnation.
  • In Mathematics, the proportion of women among authors of scientific papers has increased steadily, growing from less than 10% for the 1970s cohorts to over 27% nowadays. And the evolution in Physics and Astronomy is similar.
  • The proportion of women authoring papers in top journals has been significantly increasing in Astronomy and Astrophysics as well as in Chemistry.
  • However, it remained static in various top journals in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and at a very low level, beneath 10%, which is significantly below the overall proportion of women authoring papers.

The database of good practice assembles initiatives for reducing the gender gap. They found that:

  • By far the most frequent type of initiative involved promoting STEM careers to girls and young women in school or vocational education contexts; for example, by stimulating interest, providing career information, and presenting role models.
  • However, simply telling women and girls about STEM opportunities is unlikely to make a great difference to the gender gap, unless other supporting strategies are implemented.

Four strategies were developed out of the database of good practice:

  1. Engage families and communities in promoting STEM careers to girls, especially when these careers are contrary to cultural expectations and norms.
  2. Engage girls and women in exploring socio-scientific issues.
  3. Promote social support for women and girls, such as peer networks and mentoring by more experienced STEM researchers or professionals.
  4. Develop Women and girls’ STEM leadership, advocacy and communication skills.

The project also held a conference in Trieste in November 2019, with GenderInSITE's support and attendance. Check out GenderInSITE's live tweets of the event here, or using #GenderGapinSTEM.