Women in Science

Getting women to the top in science challenges Germany, per report at #GS7Eu

Elsevier’s new report on gender in German research will be presented at the Gender Summit in Berlin – download it here

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 Mapping Gender in the German Research ArenaIn 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, conducted by Elsevier’s Analytical Services team. It will be presented today at the Gender Summit 7 Europe in Berlin. (See the infographic at the end of this story.)

Making use the full potential of women and men is crucial for ensuring the quantity, diversity and quality of research. The report finds evidence that

  • The publications authored by only females are the most internationally collaborative.
  • Mixed-gender research teams are more likely to produce interdisciplinary publications compared to male-only or female-only teams (Figure 1).
  • Publications for which the majority of the authors are female focus on different research topics compared to male-only publications in a gender balanced research area.

“This report provides new insights to governments and the European Commission by showing that the goal to promote interdisciplinary research and to open up new research fields will be achieved more quickly by including more women in science,” said Prof. Martina Schraudner, head of the Department of Gender and Diversity in Organisations at the Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management of the Technical University of Berlin and the Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation.

Figure 1: The relationship between female-author ratio and interdisciplinary research (Source: <em>Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena</em>, based on Scopus data)

The report links Scopus author profiles to data from a large on-line social networking service where users disclose their gender and country of origin, to identify German researchers’ gender based on their first names.

The analysis revealed a significant gender gap. For example:

  • In 2014, 30.9 percent of German researchers in Scopus were women. Among the senior researchers with more than 10 years of experience since their first publication, just 19 percent were women.
  • German female researchers produced 2.07 publications per year on average, significantly lower than male researchers’ 2.34 in the period 2010-14.
  • In the same period, across all subject areas, the average field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) of German female researchers is 1.68, also significantly lower than that of male researchers (1.75).

The challenge to have more women in science in Germany is mainly at the junior and mid-senior levels, the report shows. For German researchers who have been active for less than 5 years since their first publication, male researchers’ research productivity is 9.9 percent higher than that of their female counterparts (Figure 2). The difference increases dramatically to 17.6 percent for researchers who have 5 to 10 years of experience since their first publication. One plausible explanation for this finding is that this is the period during which most women start to have children and carry heavy family responsibilities.

At this mid-senior level, 32.9 percent of the researchers are women. However, because of the big gap in research performance between women and men in this category, women face big challenges in getting to the top in science. For the most senior category – more than 10 years since first publication, just 19 percent are women. Women who do reach this level, however, are just as productive in their research output as men. With older children, women in this seniority category are more likely to have similar family responsibilities as men. A similar pattern is observed when field-weighted citation impact instead of research productivity is used as the measure of research performance.

Figure 2: Differences in research productivity between female and male researchers in three different seniority categories (Source: <em>Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena,</em> based on Scopus data)

To reduce gender gaps, we believe it is essential to have regulations, policies and funding programs that support and stimulate junior and mid-senior female researchers to overcome the obstacles they face due to, for example, family responsibilities, insufficient access to informal networks of collaboration or lack of access to funding in order to pursue their career in academia.

Infographic: Mapping Gender

Elsevier Connect Contributors

Lei Pan, PhDDr. Lei Pan is Content and Analytics Product Manager at Elsevier. She specializes in assessment reports for government,  academic institutions and funding bodies and in combing publication and citation data with macroeconomic data to link research performance to policy and economic development. She focuses her work on Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Lei holds a PhD in Economics from VU Amsterdam and a Master of Economics  from Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Tinbergen Institute.

Judith Kamalski, PhDAs Head of Analytical Services, Dr. Judith Kamalski focuses on demonstrating Elsevier’s research assessment expertise and capabilities by connecting with the research community. She heads up a team of product managers heavily involved in analyzing, reporting and presenting of commercial research performance evaluation projects for academic institutes as well as governments. Judith has worked within several key areas of Elsevier including bibliographic databases, journal publishing, strategy, sales, and most recently within Research and Academic Relations, where she has acquired strong bibliometric knowledge and expertise on the use of bibliometric data to deepen customer insights and inform strategy.

Judith conducted her PhD research at Utrecht Institute of Linguistics and Florida State University, and also holds master’s degrees in Corporate Communications and French Linguistics & Literature.

Elizabeth KalinakiElizabeth Kalinaki is a data scientist in the Elsevier's Research Intelligence Data Science team. In this role, Elizabeth works with different datasets and technologies to deliver analytics, prototypes and custom intelligence to clients, including developing the methodology to identify the gender of researchers. She has a background in informatics, and her interests include big data, the science of data, visualization and geographic information technologies. A former researcher at the VU University Amsterdam, she has a joint Master of Science degree in geospatial technologies from Universitat Jaume I in Spain, WWU Münster in Germany, and Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.

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