Women in Research are Closing Gender Gap Globally, But Inequality Persists

London, UK -A new Elsevier report, released to coincide with International Women’s Day, shows participation of women in research is increasing, but inequality remains for publication outputs, citations, awarded grants, collaboration and perceptions.

The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens examines research participation, career progression, and perceptions across the European Union and 15 countries globally in 26 subject areas. The analysis is based on Elsevier Scopus data and was further informed by experts from around the world who advised on the report’s development, including the research questions, methodologies and analytics.

The report shows that the overall gap between men’s and women’s participation in research is shrinking: the ratio of women-to-men researchers in nearly all regions studied increased by approximately 20 women for every 100 men in 2014–2018; compared with values observed in 1999-2003. However, the report also finds that geographic and subject area inequality still exists.

Highlights from the report

Women represent an increasing share of all authors, but men still outnumber women in all countries/regions studied, except in Argentina, where 51 percent of publishing researchers are women (between 2014-2018). Japan shows the lowest share of women among authors (15 percent between 2014-2018).

Women are most highly represented among earlier career authors and in the life and health sciences; notably in nursing and psychology women represent the majority of authors.

Men are better represented among authors with a long publication history, across all subject areas within the physical sciences and as last and corresponding authors.

Generally, men publish more, and publish more internationally than women, are awarded more grants than women, and apply for more patents than women.

On average, men have a higher citation impact for their first author publications than women.

Both men and women tend to collaborate preferentially with authors of the same gender

Across all subject areas and geographies, men tend to have more co-authors than women, with the gap widening as publication history increases.

Researchers’ perspectives about the role of gender in academia are largely guided by their perception of how fair the academic system is and the level of importance they place on gender diversity.

The report is Elsevier’s third Gender Report and reaffirms the company’s broader commitment to gender inclusion and diversity as a member of the global research community and in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Other actions that Elsevier has taken in recent years include refinement of key processes, principles and systems to support robust research in the most equitable and inclusive way. For example, the company targets greater gender diversity for its journal editorial boards, reviewers and invited conference speakers. Elsevier has also enhanced editorial policies and guidance to authors on reporting about sex and gender in research studies and the use of inclusive language across its portfolio of journals.

Today, Elsevier also announced the launch of its Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board,with the participation of pre-eminent research leaders and co-chaired by Kumsal Bayazit, CEO of Elsevier, and Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet.

The independent, multidisciplinary Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board will work towards lasting solutions that promote inclusion and diversity across disciplines, collaborating with the research community to drive long-term, measurable change. Initial areas of focus include participation, gender in science and career progression. The Board aims to address these areas with standards, best practices and evidence-based initiatives that drive unbiased, robust decisions on how research is conducted through to improvement of gender equity in research funding, peer review, publication and career opportunities.