Women in STEM(M): Some Numbers

By: Marie Donlon

Looking at the number of male and female authors listed on over 10 million academic papers, researchers from the University of Melbourne were able to calculate the gender gap among researchers across science and medicine.

Among their findings:

  • The majority of disciplines examined (87 of 115) had fewer female research authors (fewer than 45 percent), while only 5 had 55 percent.

  • The disciplines with the fewest female authors were in the fields of physics, math, chemistry, surgery and computer science.

  • More women held junior research roles while more men were likely to hold senior research positions.

  • Fewer women authors appeared in prestigious journals than in standard journals.

  • With a striking gender gap in the field of physics (only an estimated 13 percent of women in senior positions), researchers believe it will take almost 260 years to close that gap.

  • Social sciences (mainly social work journals) and speech-language pathology currently have more than 50 percent of women authors, and are becoming more female-biased.

“Of the gender-biased disciplines, almost all are moving towards parity, though some are predicted to take decades or even centuries to reach it." Said Dr. Cindy Hauser from the University of Melbourne's School of Biosciences.

The study is published in the journal PLOS Biology.