Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena

A report conducted by Elsevier

Equality is part of quality in science. Making full use of the potential of both women and men maximizes the quantity and, more importantly, quality of research. Despite the policies and regulations implemented by the European Commission and within individual countries, there are prominent gaps between women and men in terms of the number of scientific researchers, decision-making positions held, and other aspects of career development such as informal networks of collaboration and access to funding.

This report provides evidence and analysis on potential gender gaps in research in Germany by linking data from Scopus®to data from a large online social networking service to identify the gender of German researchers in Scopus®author profiles.

The core findings

  1. The number and proportion of female researchers in Germany is increasing. The number of female researchers in Germany increased from 43,728 in 2010 (28.2% of all gender-identified researchers in Germany) to 54,742 (30.9%) in 2014. However, among senior researchers – those with more than 10 years since their first publication, the share of female researchers is almost unchanged from 2010 to 2014.

  2. Female researchers in Germany tend to be less productive than their male counterparts, and their publications have lower citation impact. The field-weighted citation impact (FWCI) of German female researchers is 1.68 in the period 2010-2014, significantly lower than that of German male researchers (1.75). We observe the same trends in research productivity: German female researchers produced on average 2.07 publications per year in the period 2010- 2014 and the corresponding number for their male counterparts was 2.34.

  3. Disparities in publication productivity and citation impact between female and male researchers in Germany are smaller for more senior researchers. For German researchers who first published less than 5 years ago, the productivity of male researchers is 9.9% higher than that of female researchers. The percentage declines to 3.4% for senior researchers for whom more than 10 years have passed since their first publication. Similarly, for researchers who have been active less than 5 years, the FWCI of male researchers is 2.5% higher than that of female researchers. For researchers active for 10 or more years, the FWCI of male researchers is only 0.3% higher.

    Figure 1: Publications per year by seniority category; all subjects; for Germany; 2010-2014.

    Figure 1: Publications per year by seniority category; all subjects; for Germany; 2010-2014.


  4. For Germany, female-only publications are the most internationally collaborative. Mixed-gender publications are more interdisciplinary but less internationally collaborative than mono-gender publications. Around 48.4% of German publications with only female or only male authors in the period 2010-2014 are international collaborations, and the corresponding number for the mixed-gender publications is only 37.6%. Female-only publications are the most internationally collaborative: 53.9% of these publications are international collaborations. In contrast, around 9.3% of the mixed-gender publications belong to the world’s top 10% most interdisciplinary research (IDR), whereas only 7.5% of the mono-gender publications do.

    Figure 2: The relation between interdisciplinary research and female-author ratio for publications; all subjects; for Germany; 2010-2013. Bubble size denotes the number of publications in the female-author ratio category.

    Figure 2: The relation between interdisciplinary research and female-author ratio for publications; all subjects; for Germany; 2010-2013. Bubble size denotes the number of publications in the female-author ratio category.


  5. In subject areas with skewed gender ratios in favor of males, female researchers are more likely to focus on similar topics as their male counterparts. In contrast, in subject areas with more balanced gender distributions, women tend to focus on different topics.In Physics and Astronomy, a subject area with a traditionally skewed gender ratio in favor of males, female researchers tend to focus on similar topics of research as their male counterparts. In Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, a subject area with a more balanced gender distribution, women and men focus on different topics. Women show a tendency to specialize in topics related to family and children, while men have a tendency to focus more on topics related to methodological development.

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