gender in the glob
Gender in the
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Critical issues related to gender disparity and bias must be examined by sound studies.
Drawing upon a collection of high-quality global data sources and analytical expertise,
Elsevier has produced this report as an evidence-based examination of the outputs,
quality, and impact of research worldwide through a gender lens and as a vehicle for
understanding the role of gender within the structure of the global research enterprise.
that enable gender disambiguation of authors within the Scopus® abstract and citation
database and includes comparisons between twenty-seven subject areas, across twelve
comparator countries and regions, over two decades. Elsevier partnered with expert
stakeholder organizations and individuals around the world who provided advice on
the report’s development, including the research questions, methodologies, and ana-
lytics, and a policy context for the report findings. Our intention is to share powerful
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As a steward of world research, Elsevier has a responsibility
to promote gender equality in STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics) and advance understanding
of the impact of gender, sex, and diversity in research. In this
regard, Elsevier fully supports the United Nations’ Sustainable
Development Goal 5, “to achieve gender equality and empower all
women and girls,” and the Global Research Council’s Statement
of Principles and Actions Promoting the Equality and Status of
Women in Research.
gender in the global research landscape
The proportion of women among researchers and
inventors is increasing in all twelve comparator
countries and regions over time.
Women publish fewer research papers on average
how their papers are cited or downloaded.
Women are less likely than men to collaborate
internationally on research papers.
Women are slightly less likely than men to
collaborate across the academic and corporate
sectors on research papers.
In general, women’s scholarly output includes a
slightly larger proportion of highly interdisciplinary
research than men’s.
Among researchers, women are generally less
internationally mobile than men.
Gender research is growing in terms of size and
complexity, with new topics emerging over time.
The former dominance of the United States in
gender research has declined as research activity in
the European Union has risen.
Global Research Landscape
Gender affects all facets of life and the
world of research presents no exception.
In this report, Elsevier and experts from
around the world examined this issue
using large-scale datasets to track various
aspects of the global research enterprise
over 20 years, 12 comparator countries
and regions, and 27 subject areas.
The proportion of women among researchers
and inventors is increasing in all twelve
comparator countries and regions over time.
In nine of the twelve comparator countries and regions
analyzed, women comprise more than 40% of researchers
(2011 – 2015): the United States, European Union, United
Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Brazil, Denmark,
and Portugal. This is an improvement from 1996 – 2000, at
which time only Portugal has more than 40% of women
among researchers. The results vary substantially by field
of research, with women better represented in the Life and
Health Sciences. In the Physical Sciences, women are still
generally and markedly underrepresented, with women
comprising less than 25% of researchers in these fields in
the majority of comparators. The global share of women
among inventors listed in patent applications increases
between 1996 – 2000 (10%) and 2011 – 2015 (14%), yet women
remain strongly underrepresented across all comparators.
Women publish fewer research papers on
average than men, but there is no evidence
that this affects how their papers are cited or
In all comparator countries and regions with the excep-
tion of Japan, men publish more papers on average over a
five-year period than women. This imbalance in scholarly
output is not mirrored in the downloads or citations that
those papers receive. While differences in field-weighted
The full report is available at
This report was prepared by Elsevier. Elsevier’s Research Intelligence portfolio of products and
services serves research institutions, government agencies, funders, and companies.
download impact and field-weighted citation impact
between women and men are small, the former indicator
slightly favors women while the latter slightly favors men.
In Engineering and Nursing, there is evidence to suggest
that underrepresentation of one gender tends to correlate
with underrepresentation of that gender in lead authorship
positions on published papers.
In all twelve comparator countries and regions, women
are less likely than men to collaborate at an international
level on research papers. However, despite an increase in
research collaboration over time among both women and
men, there has been no notable change in the difference
between men and women’s likelihood to collaborate inter-
sectors on research papers.
Our analysis shows that there is relatively little variation
between comparator countries and regions in the percent-
age of cross-sector collaboration between academia and
industry. For all comparators in both periods, the propor-
tion of scholarly output resulting from academic-corporate
collaboration is slightly lower for women than for men
In general, women’s scholarly output
includes a slightly larger proportion of highly
interdisciplinary research than men’s.
The differences across genders are fairly limited; however,
for most comparator countries and regions, women tend to
have a slightly higher share of the top 10% of interdiscipli-
nary scholarly output relative to their total scholarly output
than men. There is little variation in this indicator across
Among researchers, women are generally less
internationally mobile than men.
In selected analyses of researcher mobility for the United
Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, and Japan, we observe varying de-
grees of overrepresentation of women researchers classed
as non-migratory (those researchers who do not exhibit
international mobility in the period 1996 – 2015). However,
the highest citation impact is associated with transitory
researchers (those who move internationally for periods of
less than two years).
Gender research is growing in terms of size
and complexity, with new topics emerging over
time. The former dominance of the United
States in gender research has declined as
research activity in the European Union has
Published papers using the term “gender” in the title are
Over time, new themes have developed, with more papers
published on topics such as feminism, gender stereotyp-
ing, and gender classification and identification. Gender
research is growing at a relatively fast pace: faster than the
rate of growth of scholarly literature as a whole over the
same period. The rate of growth varies by comparator coun-
try and region, with gender research becoming less concen-
trated in the United States (50% of papers in 1996 – 2000)
and more equitably split between the United States and the
European Union in 2011 – 2015 (34% from the former, 35%
from the latter). The highest impact papers come from the
countries and regions that are represented most frequently
in the research, including, in particular, the United States
and several countries in the European Union.
1.1 Proportion of women and men among researchers
1.2 Scholarly output, impact, and usage patterns of women and men researchers
1.3 Proportion of women and men among inventors and their patents
interview Miyoko O. Watanabe, Deputy Executive Director, Office for Diversity
interview James Stirling, Provost, Imperial College, United Kingdom
2.2 International collaboration
2.3 Academic-corporate collaboration
2.4 Interdisciplinary research
2.5 International mobility
interview Vladimir Šucha, Director-General, Joint Research Centre,
European Commission, European Union
3.2 Gender research scholarly output and impact
interview Londa Schiebinger, The John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science and
Project team, Subject experts, and Acknowledgements
Methodology and data sources
D Subject classification
Gender and research leadership, collaboration,
interdisciplinarity, and mobility
The gender research landscape
The global research landscape through a
Gender and innovation
Diversity is integral to innovation.
In both academic and
ensures that new perspectives and ideas are brought to
the table. Diversity adds to the collective intelligence of a
and not only enhances creativity, but also
vance of the research itself. One of the key aspects of diver-
sity is gender. The unique perspectives and contributions
of women to scientific research teams have been recognized
Increasing the participation of women in the
research is a stated goal of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
The GRC has called for
scientific workforce, including training to correct uncon-
scious gender biases and exploring new career pathways by
which women are able to succeed in research and rise to
leadership positions. These efforts echo calls by the United
Nations (UN) Development Programme to achieve gender
equality and empower women and girls worldwide. The UN
Sustainable Development Goal 5 seeks development and
implementation of policies and legislation that will ensure
that women are able to achieve full and effective partici-
pation in the workforce and have equal opportunities for
Gender inequality in the STEM
A large and growing body of evidence has revealed persis-
tent gender-based differences in demographics, produc-
tivity, and advancement within the scientific workforce.
UNESCO reports that in 2015, only 28% of researchers
Though nearly equal num-
degrees in the STEM fields, the loss of women from the
research career path begins at the PhD stage and continues
through the highest organizational levels—a phenomenon
somewhat controversially described as a “leaky pipeline.”
The representation of women in STEM varies geographi-
cally, with certain countries having relatively high propor-
tions of women among researchers (Bolivia 63%, Venezuela
56%), while others have lower proportions (Republic of
Korea 18%, Japan 15%). Only 25% of researchers in France,
Germany, and the Netherlands are women.
highest in health and life sciences and lowest in engineer-
ing and computer science.
Beyond the gender imbalance in the number of research-
disparity in terms of scholarly publication.
A large study
that men produce a greater number of papers (70%) and
hold more first authorships (66%) than women, even in the
most productive countries.
In another study of 1.5 million
more likely to hold the prestigious first and last author
Other studies report a gender imbalance in the
study finds that only 13% of highly cited authors in 2014
were women; this number varies by discipline, from 3.7%
in engineering to 31% in the social sciences.
Duran, A., Lopez, D. Impact of Diversity on Organization and Career Development. C. Hughes (Ed.). Hersey, PA: IGI Global; 2015. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-7324-3;
Hewlett, A., Marshall, M., Sherbin, L. “How diversity can drive innovation.” Harvard Business Review. 2013.
Forbes Insights. Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce.
Woolley A.W., Chabris C.F., Pentland A., Hashmi N., Malone T.W., “Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups.” Science.
Global Research Council. Statement of Principles and Actions Promoting the Equality and Status of Women in Research; 2016.
Shen, H. “Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap.” Nature. 2013;495(7439):22-24. doi:10.1038/495022a.
Larivière, V., Ni, C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., Sugimoto, C.R. "Global gender disparities in science.” Nature. 2013;504(7479):211-213. doi:10.1038/504211a.
West, J.D., Jacquet, J., King, M.M., Correll, S.J., Bergstrom, C.T. “The role of gender in scholarly authorship.” PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e66212. doi:10.1371/journal.
Bornmann, L., Bauer, J., Haunschild, R. “Distribution of women and men among highly cited scientists.” J Assoc Inf Sci Technol. 2015;66(12):2715-2716. doi:10.1002/asi.
Factors underlying gender
disparities in STEM
Gender research has suggested several factors that underlie
the observed gender inequities in STEM.
Persistent bias in
noted. One study describes the “Matilda Effect,” in which
women authors are associated with a lower perceived quali-
ty of publication and interest in collaboration compared to
Women are more likely than men to have a non-lin-
track because of personal factors, such as maternity leave.
Issues of work-life balance may interfere with publication
Gender differences in publication number and
impact may also be related to differences in collaboration
patterns, as collaborator network reach has been associat-
ed with greater publication counts and impact, as well as
greater promotion. While women researchers collaborate
more often than men, their collaborator networks are more
often domestic compared to those of men.
men, which may also be linked to lower productivity and
the salaries and advancement of STEM researchers.
found to be a positive predictor of becoming a Principal
Investigator (PI), even after correcting for all other publica-
tion and non-publication factors.
Other studies have re-
to men, with women spending a greater amount of time at
the assistant professor level than men.
in favor of hiring men, as well as in offering them higher
starting salaries, start-up funds, and mentoring support
compared to women, has also been described.
of patent applications.
Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in
van Dijk, D., Manor, O., Carey, L.B. “Publication metrics and success on the academic job market.” Curr Biol. 2014;24(11):R516-R517. doi:10.1016/j.
Van den Besselaar, P., Sandström, U. “Gender differences in research performance and its impact on careers: a longitudinal case study.” Scientometrics.
Moss-Racusin, C.A., Dovidio, J.F., Brescoll, V.L., Graham, M.J., Handelsman, J. “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students.” Proc Natl Acad Sci.
Sege, R., Nykiel-Bub, L., Selk, S. “Sex differences in institutional support for junior biomedical researchers.” JAMA. 2015;314(11):1175. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8517.
Whittington, K.B., Smith-Doerr, L. “Gender and commercial science: Women’s patenting in the life sciences.” J Technol Transf. 2005;30(4):355-370. doi:10.1007/
Whittington, K.B., Smith-Doerr, L. “Women inventors in context: disparities in patenting across academia and industry.” Gend Soc. 2008;22(2):194-218.
Knobloch-Westerwick, S., Glynn, C.J., Huge, M. “The Matilda effect in science communication: an experiment on gender bias in publication quality perceptions and
Ramos, A.M.G., Cortés, J.N., Moreno, E.C. “Dancers in the dark: Scientific careers according to a gender-blind model of promotion.” Interdiscip Sci Rev.
Kyvik, S., Teigen, M. “Child care, research collaboration, and gender differences in scientific productivity.” Sci Technol Human Values. 1996;21(1):54-71.
Warner, E.T., Carapinha, R., Weber, G.M., Hill, E. V., Reede, J.Y. “Faculty promotion and attrition: The importance of coauthor network reach at an academic
Uhly, K.M., Visser, L.M., Zippel, K.S. “Gendered patterns in international research collaborations in academia.” Stud High Educ. September 2015:1-23. doi:10.1080/0
Abramo, G., D’Angelo, C.A., Murgia, G. “Gender differences in research collaboration.” J Informetr. 2013;7(4):811-822. doi:10.1016/j.joi.2013.07.002.
Leahey, E. “Gender differences in productivity: Research specialization as a missing link.” Gend Soc. 2006;20(6):754-780. doi:10.1177/0891243206293030.
Leahey, E., Keith, B., Crockett, J. “Specialization and promotion in an academic discipline.” Res Soc Stratif Mobil. 2010;28(2):135-155. doi:10.1016/j.
Regional and local initiatives to address gender
The imbalance in opportunities for women in STEM is a global reality that has prompted
an examination of the causal factors as well as the development, implementation, and
evaluation of potential solutions. Several regional, national, and local organizations have
announced initiatives aimed at improving gender equity in STEM.
ing gender representation in STEM, as demonstrated by
initiatives from the White House Office of Science and
and reports from the US Government
The National Institutes of Health
gender imbalance in the United States’ biomedical re-
search workforce, not only to ensure fairness, but also to
channel all available intellectual capacity towards building
knowledge and improving human health.
In 2015, the
to workforce diversity: (1) understanding the impact of
diversity on research quality and outputs, (2) determining
which approaches to improving biomedical training and
retention work best, (3) identifying the factors that limit
workforce diversity, and (4) developing strategies to imple-
ment and sustain diversity within the scientific workforce.
Likewise, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has called
for the support of all talented researchers, regardless of
gender, to ensure the highest-impact scientific discoveries
Through its ADVANCE program, the NSF
organizational barriers to the participation and advance-
ment of women academic researchers. Local level efforts
to understand the drivers of gender inequity in STEM
research, as well as develop and test potential interventions,
include those by the Gendered Innovations program based
at Stanford University,
In 2015, the European Commission (EC) released the Stra-
at promoting gender equality.
The Europe Gender Equal-
also proposes a set of strategic objectives to advance and
empower women, including promoting gender-balanced
In line with these statements,
gramme specifically calls for strategies to balance gender
representation in research teams and policy and deci-
sion-making groups to improve innovation and research
the Joint Research Centre (JRC) is actively involved in
overseeing the conception, development, implementation,
and monitoring of policies for achieving gender equity
across the European Union. The European Institute for
Gender Equality (EIGE), established an independent body
within the European Union to promote gender equality
and fight against discrimination, also provides support for
cross-cutting research to inform policymakers and other
key stakeholders as they work toward gender equality.
Fraunhofer IAO, which investigates how changes in demo-
involved in the EC-funded STAGES (Structural Transforma-
tion to Achieve Gender Equality in Science) project, which
supports research on building gender-aware organizational
cultures and examining the impact of specific initiatives
to improve equal opportunity for women in the scientific
Frehill, L.M., McNeely, C.L., Pearson Jr, W., Eds. “An international perspective on advancing women in science.” In: Advancing Women in Science, An International
Beede, T., Julian, T., Langdon, D., McKittrick, G, Beethida, K., Doms, M., “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation”, ESA Issue Brief 2011;4:11
United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters, WOMEN IN STEM RESEARCH Better Data and Information Sharing Could
Valantine, H.A., Collins, F.S. “National Institutes of Health addresses the science of diversity.” Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015;112(40):12240-12242. doi:10.1073/
Córdova, F.A. “Global Research Council: Commit to equity for women researchers.” Nature. 2016;534(7608):475. doi:10.1038/534475a.
Stanford Gendered Innovations. https://genderedinnovations.stanford.edu
Warner, E.T., Carapinha, R., Weber, G.M., Hill, E.V., Reede, J.Y. “Considering context in academic medicine: differences in demographic and professional
Fox, M.F., Whittington, K.B., Linkova, M. “Gender, (in)equity, and the scientific workforce.” In: Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. U. Felt, R. Fourche, C.
The Council of Europe. Europe Gender Equality Strategy.
European Institute for Gender Equality.
Gender equity is on Japan’s agenda as evident through
government-led initiatives such as “womenomics” and
“make women shine”.
The Japan Science and Technol-
equity through its Office for Diversity and Inclusion
established in 2013. JST is currently instituting formal
organizational policies to provide women researchers
with more mentoring opportunities and flexibility in
work schedules, and is pursuing initiatives that will
lead to more women among leaders in high level policy
Japan is also hosting the Gender Summit 10 (GS10), a
program started in 2011 by the EC that has since grown
worldwide. The Gender Summits are held through-
out the world and provide a platform for researchers,
policymakers, scholars, and other stakeholders to come
together and discuss gender-based research and the
impact of gender on scientific knowledge and innova-
In Australia, the Australian National University (ANU)
research and outreach, as well as the development of
programs and policies to increase hiring and retention
of women across the university.
The Institute hosted
to specifically recognize the contributions of women
researchers. On a national level, the Science in Australia
Gender Equity (SAGE) program formed in 2013 within
the Australian Academy of Science is currently spear-
heading a pilot study of the Athena SWAN program to
evaluate gender equity issues in STEM.
In the Republic of Korea, the Centre for Women in
tablished in 2011 to develop policies to support women
along the entire STEM research career continuum.
Viewing the Research Enterprise
For this report, Elsevier drew on its expertise in mining
the Scopus abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed
literature to comprehensively evaluate two gender-based
aspects of the global research enterprise: (1) the landscape
of global researchers—their publication productivity,
impact, and collaborations—viewed through a gender lens
and (2) the scope of gender research activity. Elsevier is able
to analyze these aspects of the research enterprise across
twelve comparator countries and regions and over two time
periods, thanks to Scopus’ global coverage: over 62 million
documents in more than 21,500 serials by some 5,000 pub-
lishers, inclusive across all major research fields, with 6,900
titles in the Physical Sciences, 6,400 in the Health Sciences,
4,150 in the Life Sciences, and 6,800 in the Social Sciences.
More information about the Scopus database and the meth-
odology used in this report, including the process used
to identify gender research papers and the novel gender
disambiguation approach, can be found in Appendix B.
Use of the information in the
The data in this report may be useful to a range of stake-
government agencies, and research institutions, to help
clarify the scope of gender research as well as gender-relat-
ed characteristics of the STEM workforce, and how these
have changed over time. This report can help inform devel-
opment of evidence-based initiatives to promote diversity
and specific policies to improve gender equality and build
organizational structures that will support women in their
pursuit of careers in STEM research.
Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Towards a Society in which all women shine,
Gender Summits. gender-summit.eu.; World Economic Forum. Japan Gender Parity Task Force.
Australia National University Gender Institute.
Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE).
Center for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WISET).
chapter 1 the global research landscape through a gender lens
The global research
a gender lens
The proportion of women among researchers and
inventors has increased over time in all twelve
comparator countries and regions.
sections 1.1 & 1.3
Among researchers, women tend to specialize
in the biomedical fields and men in the physical
Among researchers, compared to men, women tend
to have a lower scholarly output on average, but
women and men tend to have similar citation and
The proportion of patents with at least one woman
named as an inventor tends to be higher than the
proportion of women among inventors.
1.1 Proportion of women and men among
To understand gender in the global research land-
scape, we need to be able to identify trends among
men and women among researchers. As a proxy for
researchers, we use authors who have published
articles, reviews, and conference proceedings that
have been indexed in Scopus, Elsevier’s indexing
and abstracting database. Scopus covers 62 million
documents published in more than 21,500 titles.
In addition to indexing papers and other forms of
scholarly output, Scopus indexes authors with an
associated unique identifier (Scopus ID). Through
this data structure, we can identify all the papers, affil-
iations, and citations of an author to form a Scopus
Author Profile. Throughout the report, we use the
term “researchers” when referring to indicators that
are based on author profiles containing all the infor-
mation we have for each author, and use “authors”
to refer to the ascribed authors for each paper. To
conduct any analysis of the relationships between
gender of researchers/authors and various indicators
of research performance, we first identify the gender
of the authors in Scopus. This is done by combining
Scopus data with data sources providing information
on first names and gender per country (Genderize.io,
NamSor sociolinguistic analysis, and Wikipedia name
lists), which allow us to assign a gender to author
profiles with a first name. The author’s first name field
is not mandatory in Scopus and therefore only author
profiles with a full first name are included in the
gender assignment exercise. We are able to assign a
gender to a high proportion of Scopus Author Profiles
for each of our twelve selected comparator countries
and regions in the two time periods analyzed. For
the subset of “named and gendered researchers,”
i.e., those researchers whose Scopus Author Profile
contains a first name, and to whom we are able to
assign a country of origin and gender, the proportion
of gendered Scopus Author Profiles ranges across
comparators from 80% to 96% for 1996 – 2000 and
82% to 95% for 2011 – 2015. (Please see Appendix B
for more details on the methodology used).
UNESCO Institute for Statistics. http://data.uis.unesco.org.
European Commission. She Figures 2015. https://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_gender_equality/she_figures_2015-final.pdf
UNESCO. Gender and Science. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/priority-areas/gender-and-science/improving-
Million Women Mentors. https://www.millionwomenmentors.org/about
1000 Girls 1000 Futures. http://www.1000girls1000futures.org
researchers at the graduate level: in 2013, women made up
between 44% and 54% of graduates (ISCED level 8) for all
comparator countries except Japan, where 33% of gradu-
ates were women.
The She Figures 2015 report described
reporting that between 40% and 60% of PhD graduates
However, it is also widely recognized that
at different stages and for a number of reasons.
With the gender gap in science having been acknowledged
some years ago, efforts are being made to rectify the prob-
lem. UNESCO’s STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA)
gender gap in STEM fields at all levels of education and
research. The Million Women Mentors
and 1000 Girls
projects, as well as national and regional
some significant recent progress.
As a first step to understanding the global research
landscape, we calculate the number of men and women
researchers across our twelve comparator countries and
regions in the two time periods 1996 – 2000 and 2011 – 2015.
Gender balance is said to occur when women make up 40-
60% of any group.
Figure 1.1 shows that during the latter
researcher population, making these countries particularly
noteworthy for reaching gender parity among research-
ers. Women comprise more than 40% of researchers in
several other comparator countries and regions in the same
period: the United States, the European Union, the United
Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, and Denmark. Mexico
and Chile are not far behind, each with 38% women among
researchers. This is an improvement on the figures in the
period 1996 – 2000 when only Portugal had more than 40%
women researchers (41%). Indeed, all countries and regions
show a greater share of women among researchers in the
more recent period: Denmark and Brazil see an increase
of 11 percentage points, while the lowest improvements
are seen in the countries with the lowest share of women
researchers: Chile, Mexico, and Japan.
proportion of women and men
(among named gendered author profiles)