Female researchers growing in number worldwide, study finds

AMSTERDAM — There’s never been a better time to be a female researcher, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Elsevier, a Dutch scientific and medical information company, found using their own data that after a recent 20-year period, the share of women researchers in 27 academic disciplines had increased by between four and 11 percent in the 12 countries that they had examined.

The periods measured and compared were from 1996 to 2000 and 2011 to 2015.

scientist, lab
A new study finds the number of female researchers across the globe has increased significantly in recent years.

Furthermore, while males tend to publish more academic articles than female, women’s articles are downloaded or cited at comparable rates to those of men.

Of the 12 regions examined Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, the European Union, France, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, the UK, and the U.S. only Portugal’s proportion of female researchers exceeded 40% from 1996 to 2000.

By 2011 to 2015, only three countries hadn’t joined Portugal in this feat: Chile, Japan, and Mexico.

Australia and Brazil saw particularly dramatic gains in female participation: each saw their proportion of female researchers increase by 11%.

Even in countries like Japan, where only 20% of researchers were women from 2011 to 2015, women published more per capita than did men.

The study’s authors argue that more progress still must be made.

“A lot of discussions around gender disparity are driven by experience and speculation,” says Dr. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, a lead researcher, in a press release. “While that’s a good place to start, there is a knowledge gap that makes it difficult to move to effective interventions and policy.”

Falk-Krzesinski continues that “this data can be used and built upon by research leaders, research funding organizations, government and policy makers working on themes critical to the STEM industry.”

This report follows a related study also conducted by Elsevier.

The researchers plan to present their findings at a number of venues worldwide, starting in Washington, D.C. on March 31.

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