According to UIS data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. UIS data also show the extent to which these women work in the public, private or academic sectors, as well as their fields of research. But to truly reduce the gender gap, we must go beyond the hard numbers and identify the qualitative factors that deter women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In response, the UIS is developing a series of new indicators about the dynamics that shape women’s decisions to pursue STEM careers – from their educational pathways to the social factors, such as starting a family and workplace environment. The data will then be used as an evidence base to better target policies at the national, regional and global levels through a new project, known as SAGA (STEM and Gender Advancement), financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Numerous studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research and do not progress as far as men in their careers. However, there is very little data at the international or even country level showing the extent of these disparities. Through SAGA, the UIS has been working with partners in countries and regional organizations, to develop a toolkit that includes methodologies, indicators and frameworks to produce more precise data and make better use of existing information.
For example, a survey has been developed that investigates the drivers and barriers to a career in science and engineering. By comparing responses for men and women, the results will show the extent to which family decisions, financial considerations, workplace cultures and discrimination can shape their respective careers in STEM fields.
The new toolkit of methodological resources is based on international standards so that the resulting data can be compared across countries. The goal is to integrate these new instruments at all levels – from national surveys to regional data collections and the UIS global survey on R&D statistics.