Alarmingly few women in S&T in knowledge economies

Numbers of women in physics, engineering, computer science on the decline globally: The number of women in science, technology and innovation is alarmingly low in the world’s leading economies, and actually on the decline in several, including the United States.

Women remain severely under-represented in degree programs for these fields. Even in countries where the numbers of women studying science and technology have increased, more women are not finding their way into the workplace.

Despite efforts by many of these countries to give women greater access to science and technology education, research shows negative results, particularly in the areas of engineering, physics and computer science. Research shows that women’s parity in the science, technology and innovation fields is tied to  multiple factors such as being labor force participation, larger roles in government and politics, access to economic, productive and technological resources, quality healthcare and financial resources. Findings also show that women have greater parity in countries with government policies that support health and childcare, equal pay, and gender mainstreaming. The ability of countries to plan effectively is inhibited by the lack of reliable sex-disaggregated data in all of these areas.

These findings are based on studies the opportunities and obstacles faced by women in science across the United States, the European Union, Brazil, South Africa, India, Korea and Indonesia conducted by experts in international gender, science and technology issues. They were conducted by WISATand the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, and funded by the Elsevier Foundation.

“This broad and ambitious assessment is a critical starting point for measuring the participation of women and girls in science, technology and innovation in emerging and developing worlds,” said David Ruth, Executive Director of the Elsevier Foundation, “This study identifies key areas of national strength and weakness, and we hope it will help form the basis of evidence-based policy making and aid going forward.”

For more information go to National Assessments on Gender and STI.