International Science Council

Conference on Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing and Natural Sciences/Trieste, 4-8 November 2019

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Thanks to our Treasurer Annelies Pierrot – Bults, who attended  the final meeting of a collaborative project (2017-2019), funded by the International Science Council of eleven major scientific international unions and organizations, to discuss findings, and formulate conclusions and recommendations, we can share with you her report.

Reducing the gender gap is a major challenge for the whole scientific community, in developed as well as developing countries, and concerns everyone, men and women.

The project has concentrated its efforts on three main tasks: the Joint Global Survey with 30,000 respondents (male and female) in more than 130 countries using 8 languages, the Joint Study on Publication Patterns analyzing comprehensive metadata sources of publications of more than 500,000 scientists since 1970, a Database of Good Practices for girls and young women, parents, and organizations.

Some hundred women and a few men participated in the conference, mainly from physics, astrophysics, mathematics, and statistics with a few chemists and biologists and historians.


– Report on the findings and achievements of the three tasks of the project, globally, by scientific discipline (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, History of Science, Mathematics, Applied mathematics, and Physics), and by geographical zone (Africa, Caribbean and Central America, South America, Northern America, Central and Southern Asia, Eastern and South-eastern Asia, Western Asia, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe, and Oceania)

– Discuss and evaluate the results of the project.

– Formulate recommendations and discuss new initiatives.

Some examples of the survey:

Significant differences about lower pay for women is reported for Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer sciences, Mathematics and applied mathematics and Physics.

Sexual harassment was reported for all disciplines by 21-39% of the women and 2-5% by men. Also in all disciplines feelings about gender discrimination were reported by 45-60% of women and 4-7% of men.

Becoming a parent slowed down career opportunities in 28-37% of women and 8-13% of men

Publication patterns in chemistry showed and increase of female authors of about 5 to 20% between 1970 and 2010.

A few recommendations on associations, institutional and personal levels

-work collectively to change culture and norms to reduce the gaps

-address the disproportionate impact of parenthood on the careers of women through improved support systems for parents

-take the steps to assess pay equity and encourage policies to help reduce salary disparities

-encourage the diversification of scientific awards, actively encourage to nominate women

-address potential bias in the editorial and peer-review processes, which would strongly benefit from more transparency on the part of academic publishers

-avoid gender stereotyping and unconscious gender bias in interactions with female students and children

The final report will be published early next year on the website of  the International Science Council

Also you can find information and a toolkit on women in science – SAGA (the STEM and Gender Advancement project) on the website of UNESCO.