Still too Few Women in Science in Europe
Women represent only 30% of European researchers and only 18% of full professors, according to the "She Figures 2009”, a survey on Statistics and Indicators on Gender Equality in Science, published by the European Commission.
Even if the number of female researchers is growing faster than that of men (+6.3% annually compared to +3.7% from 2002 to 2006) - and despite an increase in the proportion of female PhDs of +6.8% over the same period, the under-representation of women in scientific disciplines and careers remains a serious challenge in Europe.
The publication of the "She Figures 2009" coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Helsinki Group on Women in Science, through which the EU Member States and the European Commission worked together to address gender inequalities in science.
"While some trends are positive, the fact that women remain underrepresented in scientific careers should be a worry for all of us. This gender imbalance in science is a waste of opportunity and talent which Europe cannot afford. There will be no quick fix; we have to address all structural obstacles along the entire career path of women scientists. The European Commission will continue to support actions to reinforce the status and participation of women in science. This is not just in the interest of European science, but also of our society and our economy" said the European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik.
The 2009 She Figures report shows that women still account for only 37% of all researchers in the higher education sector (HES), 39% in the government sector (GOV) and 19% in the business enterprise sector. Over the period, there has been an increase in the overall number of female researchers in almost all fields of science in the EU: the highest growth rates have been recorded in the fields of the medical sciences (+5.6% in HES and +12% in GOV), the Humanities (+6.8% in HES and +4% in GOV), engineering and technology (+6.7% in HES and +10% in GOV) and in the social sciences (+6.5% in HES and +3% in GOV).
Career progression of women and men in the higher education sector confirms a pattern of "vertical segregation", whereby the majority of women in academia are to be found in lower hierarchical positions. Women account for 59% of all graduates, but only 18% of full professors in Europe are women.
The under-representation of women is even more striking in the field of science and engineering, where only 11% of professors are female. She Figures 2009 also shows us that on average throughout the EU-27, only 13% of institutions in the Higher Education Sector are headed by women.
The report also concludes that there are no major differences between the EU-15 and EU-12 situation.
So, despite some progress in the number of women in research and science, the report underlines the need for long-lasting and far-reaching structural change in universities and research institutions, to promote a gender mix in all study fields and at all levels of scientific careers.
She Figures 2009
Women in Science
See also MEMO/09/519