A research study into women in STEM, The Gender Gap in Science: How Long until Women Are Equally Represented? has found that gender equity in research is generations away.
The study estimated the gender of 36 million authors published in over 6000 journals from over 100 countries that covered STEM fields over the last 15 years and concluded that the “gender gap appears likely to persist for generations.”
The study looked at the last-named author of each of the research papers. Generally, the last-named is the most senior researcher and supervisor of the more junior researchers who conducted the published research. The study found:
- 87 disciplines* have significantly fewer than 45 per cent women authors,
- Five disciplines have more than 55 per cent women authors,
- 23 disciplines are five per cent are within gender parity,
- Women are substantially underrepresented as the last-named author and single author and,
- Women were overrepresented as first authors.
*Disciplines include physics, computer science, mathematics, surgery nursing and midwifery
A 2017 study of Gender in the Global Research Landscape found that while the percentage of women among researchers and inventors has increased over the past 20 years and their articles are cited or downloaded at similar rates, women published fewer research articles than men, Women were also less likely than men to collaborate across academic and corporate sectors on research articles and were less likely to collaborate internationally on research papers.
What creates such gender disparity in research?
- Precarious employment that characterises roles that are contingent upon grant-based funding which underpins most research in Australia;
- Bias in hiring, authorship, recognition, career-building activities and promotion
- Authorship practices and funding protocols including limited recognition of career disruption that directly and indirectly create disadvantage for women
- Historical stereotyping of STEM researchers as predominately male or masculine, and
- High rates of harassment and bullying based on gender in STEM workplaces