Collaboration Analysis of research performance through a gender lens

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Analysis of research performance through a gender lens 

across 20 years, 12 geographies, and 27 subject areas

gender in the glob

al resea

rch landsca


Gender in the

Global Research


More than a quarter of inventors 

are women in Portugal

Similar proportion of men 

and women among publishing 

researchers in Brazil

The US and EU each publish more than a 

third of the global gender research output

Women tend to author more scholarly 

papers on average than men in Japan









Analysis of research performance through a gender lens 

across 20 years, 12 geographies, and 27 subject areas

Gender in the

Global Research



This report was prepared by Elsevier. Elsevier’s Research Intelligence portfolio of products 

and services serves research institutions, government agencies, funders, and companies. 

For more information, visit


Through its New Scholars program, the Elsevier Foundation has contributed to the 

advancement of early- to mid-career women scholars for more than a decade via grants 

and other partner investments. These efforts laid a foundation of success upon which 

Elsevier has built broader corporate level gender initiatives. Last year, Elsevier placed a 

priority on fostering a gender-balanced workplace by implementing the EDGE (Eco-

nomic Dividends for Gender Equality) program across our eight core business centers 

in numerous locations worldwide, thereby being among the first information service 

and technology companies in the world to be certified globally. Concomitantly, we 

formed a trans-business Gender Working Group to address external-facing issues such 

as enhancing sex and gender reporting in research and achieving gender balance for 

journal editorial boards and conferences. Further, Elsevier is committed to establishing 

a research framework for addressing gender issues to help advance policy. An important 

aspect of our commitment is this comprehensive report, Gender in the Global Research 

Landscape, a follow-on to Elsevier’s groundbreaking 2015 report, Mapping Gender in the 

German Research Arena     

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. 

Gender in the Global Research Landscape employs bibliometric analyses and methodologies 

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 

insights and guidance on gender research and gender equality policy with governments, 

funders, and institutions worldwide and to inspire further evidence-based studies. 


Ron Mobed

Chief Executive Officer, Elsevier

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


key findings

Key Findings

The proportion of women among researchers and 

inventors is increasing in all twelve comparator 

countries and regions over time.

chapter 1


Women publish fewer research papers on average 

than men, but there is no evidence that this affects 

how their papers are cited or downloaded.

chapter 1

Women are less likely than men to collaborate 

internationally on research papers.

chapter 2

Women are slightly less likely than men to 

collaborate across the academic and corporate 

sectors on research papers. 

chapter 2

In general, women’s scholarly output includes a 

slightly larger proportion of highly interdisciplinary 

research than men’s.

chapter 2

Among researchers, women are generally less 

internationally mobile than men.

chapter 2

Gender research is growing in terms of size and 

complexity, with new topics emerging over time.

chapter 3

The former dominance of the United States in 

gender research has declined as research activity in 

the European Union has risen.

chapter 3


gender in the global research landscape









Gender in the

Global Research Landscape

Executive Summary

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. 

For more information, visit

executive summary

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.

Women are less likely than men to collaborate 

internationally on research 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-


Women are slightly less likely than men to 

collaborate across the academic and corporate 

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 

among researchers.

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 

split between biomedical and social science research topics. 

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.


gender in the global research landscape




Key Findings

Executive Summary



chapter 1




Key Findings

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



and Inclusion, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Japan

interview  James Stirling, Provost, Imperial College, United Kingdom

chapter 2


Key Findings

2.1   First and corresponding authorship

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

chapter 3


Key Findings

3.1  Identifying and mapping gender research

3.2  Gender research scholarly output and impact

interview  Londa Schiebinger, The John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science and 



Director, Gendered Innovation in Science, Health & Medicine, Engineering, 



and Environment, Stanford University, United States




Project team, Subject experts, and Acknowledgements

Methodology and data sources

C  Glossary of terms

D  Subject classification

Gender and research leadership, collaboration, 

interdisciplinarity, and mobility

The gender research landscape

The global research landscape through a 

gender lens


































gender in the global research landscape

Gender and innovation

Diversity is integral to innovation.


 In both academic and 

private-sector research, the diversity of research teams 

ensures that new perspectives and ideas are brought to 

the table. Diversity adds to the collective intelligence of a 

research group,


 and not only enhances creativity, but also 

provides new contexts for understanding the societal rele-

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 

STEM fields to drive innovation and achieve excellence in 

research is a stated goal of the United Nations Educational, 

Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


 and the 

Global Research Council (GRC).


 The GRC has called for 

specific policy changes to promote gender equality in the 

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 

research workforce

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 

around the globe are women.


 Though nearly equal num-

bers of men and women pursue bachelor’s and master’s 

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.


 Gender differ-

ences also vary by discipline—representation by women is 

highest in health and life sciences and lowest in engineer-

ing and computer science.


Beyond the gender imbalance in the number of research-

ers, the literature consistently reports a large gender 

disparity in terms of scholarly publication.


 A large study 

of 5.5 million papers and 27.3 million authorships reveals 

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 

papers and 2.8 million authorships, men are found to be 

more likely to hold the prestigious first and last author 



 Other studies report a gender imbalance in the 

impact of publications, utilizing citations as a proxy. One 

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.





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Hewlett, A., Marshall, M., Sherbin, L. “How diversity can drive innovation.” Harvard Business Review. 2013.


Forbes Insights. Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce.



 Thompson, D. “The Secret to Smart Groups: It’s Women.” The Atlantic. 2015.


 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

2010;330(6004):686-688. doi:10.1126/science.1193147.



 Lee, H., Pollitzer, E. Gender in Science and Innovation as Component of Inclusive Socioeconomic Growth. London, UK: Portia Ltd; 2016.



 Huyer, S. “Is the Gender Gap Narrowing in Science and Engineering?” In: UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030. Paris, France: UNESCO Publishing; 2015.



 Global Research Council. Statement of Principles and Actions Promoting the Equality and Status of Women in Research; 2016.



 United  Nations.  Sustainable Development GOALS - 17 Goals to Transform our World; 2016.



 Shen, H. “Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap.” Nature. 2013;495(7439):22-24. doi:10.1038/495022a.



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 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 

hiring, authorship, recognition, and promotion has been 

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-

ear career path, and are more likely to leave the academic 

track because of personal factors, such as maternity leave.



Issues of work-life balance may interfere with publication 

productivity and advancement differently for men and 



 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.



researchers have also been shown to specialize less than 

men, which may also be linked to lower productivity and 


24, 25

Gender disparities have also been reported with regard to 

the salaries and advancement of STEM researchers.



one study of more than 25,000 researchers, being a man is 

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-

ported a slower pace of advancement by women compared 

to men, with women spending a greater amount of time at 

the assistant professor level than men.

11, 13

 Persistent bias 

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.

14, 15


studies have also noted gender differences in the number 

of patent applications.

16, 17



   Committee on Gender Differences in Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty; Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; 

Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in 

the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2010. doi:10.17226/12062.


   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

2016;106(1):143-162. doi:10.1007/s11192-015-1775-3.


   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

2012;109(41):16474-16479. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211286109.


   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 

collaboration interest.” Sci Commun. 2013;35:603-625. doi:10.1177/1075547012472684.


   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

2015;40(2):182-203. doi:10.1179/0308018815Z.000000000112.


   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 

medical center.” J Gen Intern Med. 2015;31(1):15-17. doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3463-7.


   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.



gender in the global research landscape

Regional and local initiatives to address gender 

disparities in STEM

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.


United States

The United States government is committed to examin-

ing gender representation in STEM, as demonstrated by 

initiatives from the White House Office of Science and 

Technology Policy


 and reports from the US Government 

Accountability Office.


 The National Institutes of Health 

(NIH) has formally recognized the need to address the 

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 

NIH called for research into four cross-cutting challenges 

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 

and advances.


 Through its ADVANCE program, the NSF 

funds research and initiatives to identify and eliminate 

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,


 Harvard University,

21, 32

 and Reed 





In 2015, the European Commission (EC) released the Stra-

tegic Engagement for Gender Equality, its plan for work aimed 

at promoting gender equality.


 The Europe Gender Equal-

ity Strategy, developed in 2013 by the Council of Europe, 

also proposes a set of strategic objectives to advance and 

empower women, including promoting gender-balanced 

organizational structures.


 In line with these statements, 

the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research funding pro-

gramme specifically calls for strategies to balance gender 

representation in research teams and policy and deci-

sion-making groups to improve innovation and research 



Working within the Horizon 2020 programme, 

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-

graphics affect organizations, is one of several institutions 

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 

research workforce. 


   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 

Perspective. London, UK: Springer; 2015.



Women in STEM,


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 

Improve Oversight of Federal Grant-making and Title IX Compliance, 2015,


   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.


   Warner, E.T., Carapinha, R., Weber, G.M., Hill, E.V., Reede, J.Y. “Considering context in academic medicine: differences in demographic and professional 

characteristics and in research productivity and advancement metrics across seven clinical departments.” Acad Med. 2015;90(8):1077-1083. doi:10.1097/



   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. 

Miller, L. Smith-Doerr (Eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2016.



 European  Commission.  Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality. 2015. 


   The Council of Europe. Europe Gender Equality Strategy.



 European  Commission.  Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Innovation.


  European Institute for Gender Equality.


Asia-Pacific Region

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-

ogy Agency (JST) actively promotes diversity and gender 

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) 

Gender Institute supports gender- and sex-based 

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 

its first Women in Research Citation Awards in 2016 

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 

Science, Engineering and Technology (WISET) was es-

tablished in 2011 to develop policies to support women 

along the entire STEM research career continuum.


Viewing the Research Enterprise 

Through a Gender Lens

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-

holder groups, including funders, policymaking bodies, 

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.; 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).


gender in the global research landscape


chapter 1   the global research landscape through a gender lens

chapter 1

The global research

landscape through

a gender lens


gender in the global research landscape

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 


section 1.1

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 

download impacts.

section 1.2

The proportion of patents with at least one woman 

named as an inventor tends to be higher than the 

proportion of women among inventors.

section 1.3

Key Findings


chapter 1   the global research landscape through a gender lens

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 (, 

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.


  European Commission. She Figures 2015.


   UNESCO. Gender and Science.



   Million Women Mentors.


   1000 Girls 1000 Futures.


UNESCO reports that there is near gender balance among 

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 

a similar gender balance in the European Union in 2012, 

reporting that between 40% and 60% of PhD graduates 

were women.


 However, it is also widely recognized that 

beyond the graduate level, women leave the academic track 

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)



is a worldwide initiative with an overall aim to reduce the 

gender gap in STEM fields at all levels of education and 

research. The Million Women Mentors


 and 1000 Girls 

– 1000 Futures


 projects, as well as national and regional 

groups and initiatives, are pursuing similar end goals with 

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 

period in Brazil and Portugal, women constitute 49% of the 

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.


gender in the global research landscape

proportion of women and men

(among named gendered author profiles)

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