New Report on Women Researchers Reveals Some Strides, but Disparities Remain

Elsevier, a company that provides information solutions to science, technology, and health professionals, recently published a report, entitled “Gender in the Global Research Landscape,” analyzing research performance by gender (using their Scopus database) over 20 years, 12 countries and 27 fields. Some good news: the report found that the number of women researchers publishing has increased in the past 20 years, and that the proportion of women researchers increased in every country analyzed. However, as noted by Inside Higher Ed in their summary of the findings, it also revealed many remaining inequalities in the world of academic research and publishing. Elizabeth Redden writes,

A large-scale analysis of gender disparities in research output and impact finds that while the number of women researchers has increased over the past 20 years, women researchers publish fewer papers on average than men and are less likely to collaborate internationally and to undertake research that cuts across the corporate and academic sectors. At the same time, a report on the findings notes there is little difference between papers published by men and women in impact as measured by citations and downloads.

Redden explains that across fields, the results varied widely, with a high proportion of women researchers in life and health sciences but a much lower proportion in – you guessed it – STEM fields like computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Interestingly, the report also looked at patent applications, which revealed that while the number of female inventors is rising, male inventors still dominate.

Perhaps the most heartening information gathered from Elsevier’s report is the fact that though the numbers are not where we’d like them to be, women are making significant progress in research fields. And studies like this one do nothing but help the cause, providing solid evidence of gender disparities and helping us to channel our energy where it’s most needed. Check out the full analysis at Inside Higher Ed or review the study yourself at Elsevier.