Although the proportion of female researchers in Europe is increasing, the under-representation of women in scientific disciplines and careers still persists. This is the message of the latest edition of the "She Figures", published today by the European Commission.
Despite some advances in recent years, women in research remain a minority, and a glass ceiling is in particular blocking women from top positions. This is a serious injustice and a scandalous waste of talent. The Commission is focused on fostering gender equality in our research programmes, and working to change a deeply-rooted institutional culture
Women represent only 33% of European researchers, 20% of full professors and 15.5 % of heads of institutions in the Higher Education sector.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Despite some advances in recent years, women in research remain a minority, and a glass ceiling is in particular blocking women from top positions. This is a serious injustice and a scandalous waste of talent. The Commission is focused on fostering gender equality in our research programmes, and working to change a deeply-rooted institutional culture.”
According to the report presented today, women represent around 40% of all researchers in the Higher Education Sector, 40% in the Government Sector and 19% in the Business Enterprise Sector. While in all sectors their number has been growing faster than that of their male counterparts (+5.1% for women annually compared with +3.3 % for men from 2002 to 2009), female researchers still struggle to reach decision-making positions with, on average, only one woman for every two men on scientific and management boards across the EU.
In 2010, the proportion of female students (55 %) and graduates (59 %) exceeded that of male students, but men outnumbered women among PhD students and graduates (respectively 49 % and 46 %). Furthermore, climbing up the ladder of the academic career, women represented 44 % of the researchers with a PhD at the first grade of an academic career and only 20 % of the researchers at the top grade of an academic career. The under-representation of women becomes even more striking in fields such as science and engineering.
Promoting gender equality is one of the key priorities set by the Commission for the achievement of the European Research Area (ERA). The Commission has asked Member States to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers. The Commission is also seeking to address gender imbalances in decision-making.
She Figures 2012 is the fourth publication of a key set of indicators that are essential to understand the situation of women in science and research. Over time, the list of indicators has evolved to describe the participation of women at all levels and in all scientific disciplines. from tertiary education through to the job market, including work/life balance not only in the 27 EU Countries but also in Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
She Figures is produced by the European Commission (Directorate General for Research and Innovation and Eurostat) in cooperation with the statistical correspondents of the Helsinki Group on Women in Science.