Elsevier reports women gaining ground in research

Worldwide, women in research continue to trail far behind men. But the gap is narrowing, science publisher Elsevier reports ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March. With the implementation in July last year of the much discussed Irène Curie Fellowship, whereby the university opens its vacancies exclusively for female talent, TU/e tried to bridge the gender gap in its workplace. The first evaluation of the measure will be discussed during a University Council meeting in late April.

photo Shutterstock

The percentage of women in research is growing in all 43 countries surveyed by Elsevier. Nonetheless, gender parity is still a long way off. Argentina is the sole exception, where 51 percent of researchers are women. Women in Japan have the hardest time breaking through, remaining stuck at 15 percent.

In the Netherlands women are gradually catching up, as reported previously. Whereas two decades ago just under 20 percent of Dutch researchers were women, notes Elsevier, “that proportion has increased to 33 percent in recent years”. This is slightly under the European average of 36 percent.

Driving this increase is of course the new generation. Among Dutch researchers who published for the first time between 2014 and 2018, more than half were women. These women are also publishing more than their predecessors.

For its report, Elsevier looked at publications in the whole spectrum of academic journals, not just its own. Data came from, among others, Elsevier’s Scopus database, which collects impact and citation data on some 35 thousand journals, as well as from patent agencies and research funding organisations.

Evaluating and clarifying the Irène Curie Fellowship program

With the start in July last year of the Irène Curie Fellowship program, whereby the university opens its vacancies exclusively for female talentduring the first six months of recruitment, TU/e aims to increase the percentage of woman among its academic staff. The measure, which triggered many responses nationwide, has been evaluated for the first time, and the evaluation report will be discussed during the University Council meeting on April 20.

In the meantime, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights is looking into the legal tenability of the measure. It does so because anti-discrimination agency RADAR, which received 49 complaints in response to the measure, wants to know whether the measure is legally tenable. Rector Frank Baaijens appeared in Utrecht on the 4th of November last year to clarify the measure and to provide the institute with arguments as to why TU/e believes the measure is legally justifiable. The Institute for Human Rights asked for some additional information on that occasion. It concerns, firstly, information regarding the (existing) gap between male and female academic staff members at TU/e, and, secondly, information regarding measures taken by TU/e throughout the years to bridge this gap, and the effects of these measures.

The Institute for Human Rights says it needed this information in order to properly assess the proportionality of the Irène Curie Fellowship program. TU/e has by now provided all the appropriate documents and a second hearing will take place in Utrecht on Friday, May the 8th, during which the measure can be further explained. The Institute for Human Rights expects to reach a conclusion at the end of June.

Share this article