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Still too Few Women in Science in Europe

European Commission - IP/09/1815   25/11/2009

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/09/1815

Brussels, 25 November 2009

Still too Few Women in Science in Europe

Women represent only 30% of European researchers and only 18% of full professors, according to the latest edition of the "She Figures", a survey on Statistics and Indicators on Gender Equality in Science published today by the European Commission 1 . 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 t hat 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 increa se 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.

What is next?

The "She figures" are published every three years by the European Commission. The next issue will be published in 2012. In the meantime, the European Commission launched two calls for research proposals: one offers an opportunity for consortia of research institutions and universities to design and implement action plans to strengthen the role and image of female scientists; the other will support research and data collection on the situation of women in science in the Mediterranean region.

Background

She Figures 2009 offers a comprehensive picture of women in science from tertiary education through to the job market not only in the 27 EU Countries but also in Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. It provides detailed data on female researchers in Europe including their number, their distribution across scientific fields, their seniority level and their access to decision-making positions.

The She Figures 2003, 2006, and 2009 have been produced by the European Commission (Research DG and Eurostat) and the Helsinki Group on Women in Science.

More info on:

She Figures 2009

http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/index.cfm?fuseaction=public.topic&id=126

Women in Science

http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/index.cfm?fuseaction=public.topic&id=27

Info on calls

http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/dc/index.cfm?fuseaction=UserSite.CapacitiesDetailsCallPage&call_id=271

See also MEMO/09/519

1 :

b ased on 2006 figures


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