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Elsevier's reports on gender in research

June 7, 2022

Biotechnologists carryout out a medical test

Elsevier’s latest global analysis reveals progress toward gender parity, but women still trail men in number of publications and citations

Gender in the Portugal Research Arena: A Case Study in European Leadership (2021)

Over the last two decades, Portugal has exhibited the largest percentage increase in women’s representation — an impressive 10% — putting the country at the leading edge of closing the gender gap in research.

Gender in the Portugal Research Arena: A Case Study in European Leadership(opens in new tab/window) offers a data-led look at the dynamics underlying Portugal’s leading edge. At the same time, it points to persisting gender gaps in research that require stronger transformative efforts, and it reveals how these gaps tend to mimic and perpetuate structural inequalities between women and men.

Together with distinguished academic leaders in Portugal, we have worked to put into context quantitative analyses with policy perspectives, insights and best practices. We hope to contribute insights from the experience of one country to inform policy and inspire targeted initiatives among policymakers, research leaders and funders around the world to achieve gender equity in research.

Key findings

  • Women represent nearly 50% of active authors in Portugal — the closest to gender parity for all EU28 countries analyzed

  • Women are highly represented across the life sciences and health sciences fields, where gains in Portugal continue to be largest, and in chemistry, chemical engineering and psychology

  • They remain most underrepresented within the physical sciences, especially in fields related to data science and AI such as computer science, mathematics and engineering

  • In Portugal, women are most highly represented among first authors, indicative of greater gender representation for early-career researchers

    • Also, unlike the trend seen in other countries, women researchers are likely to continue publishing over time, thus remaining in research

Portugal’s leadership is the result of many deliberate steps, the result of specific policy initiatives and a coordinated approach to targeted interventions. Such efforts are combined with a longstanding commitment to strong early education STEM interventions and research on gender equality, as well as funding to implement work-life balance and gender equity plans.

Cover of the report "Gender in the Portugal Research Arena"

Gender in the Portugal Research Arena: A Case Study in European Leadership

Download the report (opens in new tab/window)

As Rosa Monteiro(opens in new tab/window), Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, Portugal, states in the report:

The latest report gives us a positive picture of gender diversity progress in research. This seems to accompany women’s increased participation in the labor market. However, we also see that research reproduces structural gender inequality patterns. For example, having men with longer publication histories and established international networks is a reflection of career interruptions and the reality that women still shoulder a much larger share of unpaid care work than men over the life course, with gender gaps in terms of pay and vertical segregation.

Image of Rosa Monteiro

Rosa Monteiro, Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, Portugal

Percentage of women and men among researchers in Portugal

Percentage of women and men among researchers in Portugal (PRT) compared with Denmark (DNK), Italy (ITA) and an aggregate regional comparator that includes 27 European Union countries plus the UK (EU28). (Source: Scopus and NamSor)

Percentage of women and men among researchers in all research and selected subject areas

The percentage of women and men among researchers in all research and selected subject areas in the physical sciences in Portugal during the period 2014–18. (Source: Scopus and NamSor)

Find out more about Elsevier's Inclusion and Diversity initiatives.

The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens (2020)

While the participation of women in research is increasing overall, inequality remains across geographies and subject areas in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants and collaborations. That is among the findings of Elsevier's latest gender report.

The report, titled 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.

Cover of the report "The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens"

The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens

Download the report (opens in new tab/window)

Based on 20 years of data from Scopus across 12 geographies and all 27 Scopus subject areas, this is the third report Elsevier has produced on gender in the research landscape. It follows a global report released in 2017 and a report on Germany in 2015.

As with these previous studies, the 2020 report serves as a vehicle for understanding the role gender plays in the global research enterprise. Among the changes it brings are improvements in the methodology of inferred gender disambiguation of authors in Scopus and expanded analyses to cover a total of 16 countries/regions. It also includes new elements, such as career progression and collaboration network analyses and perspectives from researchers.

Key findings

While overall the representation of women in research is increasing, inequality remains. Data show where effort is still needed to ensure equality for women in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants, and collaborations.

Research participation

  • In all countries studied and the EU28, the ratio of women to men among all authors was closer to parity during a recent 5-year period compared with a decade ago

  • Men are more highly represented among authors with a long publication history while women are highly represented among authors with a short publication history

Research footprint

  • On average, women researchers author fewer publications than men in every country, regardless of authorship position

    • The least difference in the number of publications by women compared to men is observed among first authors, and the biggest difference is observed among all authors

  • Among first authors, the average citation impact of men is higher than that of women, suggesting gender bias in citation practice

Pie charts showing the change in gender distribution among authors

The number of women to men among all authors is moving closer to being equal.

Image of statistics increase in women per field in research

Publishing careers and mobility

  • The percentage of women among all authors in the cohort declines over time (between the year of authors’ first publication in 2009 up to 2018) in all countries and regions except Portugal

  • In every country, the percentage of women who continue to publish is lower than men who continue to publish

Collaboration networks

  • Across many subject areas and countries, men tend to have more co-authors than women and this difference is wider for authors with a longer publication history

  • Women and men are more similar in the way they are connected to their potential collaborative space (second-order collaborators) through their direct collaborators

Researcher perspectives

Researcher attitudes towards gender diversity and equity vary widely among men and women. Most of the differences in viewpoints are related to the importance in individual places on gender balance and to the perception of fairness in the academic system.

Survey question

 Image of qualitative chart gender report

Survey response to the statement: "In my organization, women have to perform better than men to be considered good at their job," by gender and subject area.

  • There are two opposing opinions on the causes of gender imbalance and inequality in academia

  • Some groups (men and women) attribute gender inequality to the attitudes and ambition levels of women

  • Other groups attribute gender inequality to a systemic and cultural (unconscious) bias against women


While the report itself is rich in terms of the data presented, we are pleased to make the underlying data available for non-commercial research purposes. This report incorporates methodology of inferred gender disambiguation of authors in Scopus. It has expanded analyses to cover 16 countries and regions. In addition, it includes career progression and collaboration network analyses as well as perspectives from researchers. Use the Tableau dashboards to look at all the countries and subject-specific author gender statistics:

This report also draws on qualitative data to illustrate the diverse viewpoints of researchers related to gender diversity and equity. This qualitative data was derived from surveying researchers as illustrated below.

image of method report

To cite this report

De Kleijn, M, Jayabalasingham, B, Falk-Krzesinski, HJ, Collins, T, Kuiper-Hoyng, L, Cingolani, I, Zhang, J, Roberge, G, et al: The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens: An Examination of Research Participation, Career Progression and Perceptions Across the Globe (Elsevier, March 2020) Retrieved from

Gender in the Global Research Landscape (2017)

There is widespread agreement that fostering diversity is integral to innovation in research, and gender equality is key to achieving this. Critical issues related to gender disparity and bias must be examined by sound studies to support a data-informed approach to implementing interventions and policy related to gender inequality. A report released today provides unprecedented insight into these issues.

Gender in the Global Research Landscape(opens in new tab/window) was produced by Elsevier in partnership with global experts to provide an analytical framework for better understanding the role of gender within the structure of the global research enterprise. Based on 20 years of data from Scopus and ScienceDirect  across 12 geographies and all 27 Scopus subject areas the report is an evidence-based examination of global research performance through a gender lens.

Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena (2015)

In Germany, even though the number and share of female scientists has increased in the past 5 years, they are still outnumbered and lag behind their male counterparts in research performance. That was a key finding of the new report Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena(opens in new tab/window), conducted by Elsevier’s Analytical Services team. It will be presented today at the Gender Summit 7 Europe(opens in new tab/window) in Berlin.