Gender is one of the key components of RRI as well as the European Commission’s overall approach to promoting a culture of openly sharing information among researchers, innovative industries and citizens.
Female researchers globally
Currently, the global share of female researchers is 28.8% although the proportion in some regions (Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean) reaches almost 50%.
Female researchers in EU
In the EU, the proportion of female researchers is 33% (while the share is somewhat higher in central and eastern Europe than in western Europe)
Academic career ladder: Grade A staff
Women are also significantly under-represented in research and academic leadership positions. In the EU-28, the largest gender discrepancy is observed at the highest level of the academic career ladder, where women comprised on average 21% of Grade A staff.
Gender inequities in Review-Assessment-Dissemination
Gender inequality in research and academia has a considerable impact on authorship as well as recognition and evaluation of women researchers. They translate to wide variations in the quality of working conditions of female researchers as well as opportunities for career advancement and participation in academic decision-making. OpenUP studied gender-related biases in the following areas of academic work relevant to:
- Peer review processes and contribution to editorial boards
- Research dissemination and
- Research evaluation and review panels
Gender lens in...
- Opinions on whether OPR would help to advance or hinder gender equality vary among different research stakeholders and further gathering, and examination of evidence in this area is needed.
- Data of platforms and journals employing traditional and novel peer review methods could contribute to such an evidence base. It might reveal the points at which biases arise and the best ways to address them.
- More data in this area would also enable a detailed comparison of how OPR, double blind review and even triple blind review help to advance or hinder gender bias.
- Other specific areas that are still largely contested among researchers could also be explored including the awareness among editors of the gender of the reviewers and authors, and if gender influences the quality of the review.
- Alternative metrics have a potential to give a better recognition of researchers’ expertise and all type of research activities they engage in. This is particularly important to female researchers as studies show that bibliometric indicators cannot account for all the research activities they participate in.
- A recent bibliometric analysis conducted by Elsevier showed that scholarly output (articles, reviews, or conference proceedings) of female researchers is slightly lower compared to males. Another study also found female underrepresentation among authors of scientific publications (with exceptions of some countries). Further studies have addressed these issues from a disciplinary perspective.
- The OpenUP survey found that female researchers are more likely to disseminate their research through nontraditional dissemination methods (press releases, popular science publications and events for the general public) and target audiences other than academic audiences compared to male researchers (see table below). Such efforts are not acknowledged by traditional researcher evaluation methods and research impact measurements. Altmetrics introduces other ways of measuring and rewarding all the research efforts. Through more overarching research assessments, they could improve the recognition of female researchers (and all researchers). However, it must be noted that alternative metrics also have its biases (e.g. perceived female users are retweeted less often than perceived male and gender ambiguous users).
- Although not all areas of research have sex or gender aspects relevant to the content of the study itself (e.g. gravitational waves), they might be relevant for outreach (e.g. encouraging girls and boys in schools to take up physics), for researcher training and for policy recommendations (e.g. feeding the pipeline, maximising impact of investment in research).
- Members of scholarly societies and journal editors expressed stronger support for implementation of such approaches compared to researchers. The latter doubted that gender-regulating measures in dissemination would help achieve gender equity, but rather, add additional requirements and workload to researchers, preventing them from conducting research.
- Today, communicating and interacting with the public in an inclusive way (i.e. without discriminating gender or diversity) is essential to improve perception and awareness of science. To fill the current gap in interactive, inclusive and open science communication and to better distribute available resources it is recommended to create and fund new science communication roles and positions.