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Representation of Women in Science and Engineering in Canada and Europe


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Title: Representation of Women in Science and Engineering in Canada and Europe

Representation of Women in Science and
Engineering in Canada and Europe
  • Julita Vassileva
  • Computer Science Department,
  • University of Saskatchewan, Canada

  • Differences and similarities between womens
    representation in sci. eng. In Canada and in
  • European programs for advancement of women
  • US and Canadian Programs

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Canadian Situation in Universities
  • Lack of women progressing through the academic
    ranks is a concern of all granting councils
  • Many grass-root organisations
  • Government agency Status of Women wide

Difficult to coordinate activities
Figures CAUT Almanac 2007
(women in sci. eng. vs. women in all fields)
Vertical cross-section
Women faculty in sci. eng. vs. Women faculty in
all fields
Canada Research Chairs
Chairs from All disciplines SHHRC, CIHR, NSERC,
All NSERC Chairs 2007
Total 780 Women 90 (11.5)
UNESCO Science Technology and Gender Report 2007
What is the situation in Europe?
Can we learn something?
All disciplines
Poor retention rates from education through
employment in EU-15
  • In the UK, calculations from the 2001 Labour
    Force Survey show that at any one time 50,000
    women with science, engineering, and technology
    degrees were not in paid work
  • of these, only half can be expected to return to
    paid work, of whom only a third will take
    science-based jobs, often in associate
    professional technician jobs for which they are
    overqualified (DTI, 2002).

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gt45 Women In SciEng
High proportion of women in sci. eng in eastern
and southern European countries
  • Example Bulgaria
  • Entrance exams for University - quotas required
    to ensure that there will be men accepted
    otherwise would be completely feminized
  • 50 women enrollment in first year, possibly
    increasing over the course of studies.
  • Equal representation of men and women in the

  • Different educational system (old-fashioned)
  • more streamlined, rigid, less choice
  • math is emphasized throughout school and
  • Different social policies
  • in former socialist regimes women were expected
    to work, there was ubiquitous state-funded
    daycare system
  • two generations of women fully integrated in the
    workforce during their lifetimes plenty of
  • Different culture in socialist Bulgaria
  • intellectual work WAS associated with prestige
  • was fairly well paid (money didnt matter that
    much then),
  • this is changing now, quickly

Musings on this side of the Atlantic
  • Perhaps we give kids too many choices too early?
  • importance of Math, boring practice not
    emphasized enough
  • Prestige goes with money-earning or with
    high-power jobs, not so much with intellectual
  • Women encouraged to find their way to express
    themselves in different ways
  • mothers, homemakers, professionally (lots of
  • but men are encouraged to find a well-paid,
    prestigeous, high-power job.
  • Virtually not existent government support for
    work-life balance

So the numbers in some European countries look
  • Lets see if it is really a wonderful life for
    female scientists over there

Vertical sex segregation
Vertical sex segregation
  • Similar to Canada, the proportion of women in
    Sci. Eng. in higher ranks in Europe decreases.
  • Also in Eastern European countries
  • men are on average 3 times more likely than women
    to be in Grade A (Full professor) positions
  • Women are considerably more likely than men to be
    in technician jobs (versus researcher jobs),
    despite being similarly qualified
  • Result pay gap.

Womens and Mens Average Monthly
Earnings Country Higher Educ.
math. lecturer Chemical
engineer Women ( of
male) Men Women ( of male)
Men Latvia 358 (81)
439 359 (80)
450 Lithuania 373 (75)
494 461
(61) 759 Poland
544 (79) 688
671 (85) 786 Romania
173 (77) 223
197 (83) 238 Slovakia
294 (91) 322
409 (77) 533 Portugal
1309 (98) 1341
1558 (72) 2167
Portugal is the lowest paid EU-15 country
calculations based on data from the ILO Laborsta
Back to Canada
Horizontal / Geographical Sex SegregationLets
see now where the research money is
gt45 Women researchers in SciEng
Research funding
Nearly no overlap!
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The Honeypot indicator
  • The proportion of female researchers is the
    highest in those scientific fields and countries
    where the least money is spent on research from
    the GDP
  • Women are heavily concentrated in the government
    sector, but the RD funding is concentrated in
    the private sector
  • Women are usually substitutes for those men that
    left the research profession because of its
    decreasing prestige and the dwindling salaries
    over the past 15 years.
  • EC, 2003 women are being used as a kind of
    secondary human resource . . . because the reward
    system is no longer sufficiently attractive to
  • Why dont women switch to those sectors that
    offer the best opportunities?
  • The Commission acknowledges womens agency their
    location in the more stable, but poorly paid,
    publicly funded science may be a strategy of
    women choosing to work here in order to support
    their families with at least one stable income in
    the new competitive and risky environment
  • Glover, J. (2005) Highly Qualified Women in the
    New Europe Territorial Sex Segregation
  • http//

Studies Central European Center for Women and
Youth in Science
  • great differences exist between the perception by
    men and women scientists of the role and position
    of women in science
  • parenthood is a major inhibitor to the
    development of scientific career
  • gender stereotyping persists
  • affirmative action rejected especially by men
  • what is natural? Most young scientists thought
    that men and women by NATURE have different
  • gender issues are perceived as an imported topic
    and are displaced in domestic socialeconomic,
    political and cultural context by other problems,
    widely considered as more important (high
    unemployment rate, low-cost labour, regional
    disparities, effects of social and economical
    reforms on the population, demographic problems
  • analogically, in the sphere of science gender
    studies are considered as not relevant
    (interviews with women scientists), and there are
    more pressing and real problems in science and
    research science financing, insufficient
    infrastructure, under-financed scientific work
    and its low social status, lack of interest of
    young people in scientific career and leaving
    science to work in other sectors.

I am a father, so I will say something about
family and having a career. Because if you are
in academia, in Slovenia you collect points and
it is a system that makes it possible to be
compared with colleagues, and the number of
points gives you access to the next step. Now,
being a father it also means that I cannot
engage myself ten hours or twelve hours a day in
work but only eight if I want to be a father
also, not just a working man This also means
that I cannot compare with my colleagues that
just work because they collect more points than I
do. Now, being a mother, this is at least ten
times more problematic than being a father. So,
I think it is a difficult issue, especially in
academia. Not to mention the old boys
club. male, physicist
ENWISE Report 2002
  • Enwise Enlarge Women In Science to East with
    members from Central and Eastern Europe and the
    Baltic States (The Enwise countries are Bulgaria,
    the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,
    Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic
    and Slovenia)
  • The report highlights that for many women,
    becoming a scientist often means accepting an
    under-funded position within the scientific
    community, a double burden in maintaining a
    satisfactory worklife balance and an implicit
    expectation that all hindrances form part of the
    private sphere without any public recognition or
  • It gives an overview of the participation of
    women from the Enwise countries in the European
    Research Area, revealing the following main
  • there are big differences among the scientific
    disciplines, the proportion of women is high in
    social sciences but very low in engineering
  • women mainly work in those fields where the
    salaries are the lowest and the circumstances the
  • very few women work in industry, where the
    financial conditions are the best
  • more than 40 of PhD degrees are acquired by
    women but their representation is much lower in
    the upper levels of the hierarchy.

ENWISE - Activities
  • Raising visibility and inclusion of women
    scientists in the scientific community by
  • creating an interdisciplinary database of women
    scientists from Central Europe, awareness of
    which was promoted among national and
    international organisations, industrial bodies
    and RD employment sites
  • developing information material and workshops for
    women to inform and mobilise them to register in
    the European Commission database of expert
  • Building capacity and skills by
  • developing a Project Sourcebook which introduces
    the European Commission research funding tools
    and offers experience-based tips and suggestions
    on proposal writing and project coordination and
  • fostering reflective practices among scientists
    by developing a manual on the inclusion of the
    gender dimension in research questions and
    methodology and organised workshops to introduce
    the concept and look at concrete examples of how
    this can be done
  • holding seminars for young men and women
    scientists, aiming to prepare young researchers
    to take ownership of their research projects, and
    to develop skills in communication and
    responsible conduct of science, and provide them
    with skills to enable them to develop into
    effective supervisors and mentors
  • explaining and informing scientists about the
    opportunities and processes of participating in
    European Commission funded research
  • Contributing to policy development
  • CEC-WYS has built on the Enwise Workshop on Young
    Scientists and follow-up online questionnaire to
    write a report on young scientists perceptions
    of the issues they face. Results have been made
    publicly available and synergised with the
    activities of other organisations and activities
    concerned with young scientists as a tool to
    lobby for policy development.
  • Based on the Enwise expert group recommendations
    concerning the position of women in science in
    Central and Eastern Europe, CEC-WYS partners
    monitored policy developments by conducting a
    mapping exercise and writing national reports and
    a comparative international report with which to
    lobby at national level

EC Programs
  • EC aims to achieve at least 40 repesentation for
    women at all levels of implementing and managing
    research programmes
  • e.g. in Marie Curie research scholarships,
    advisory groups and assessment panels for the
    various Frameworks for research and technological
  • Gender Mainstreaming throughout the whole process
    of the 6th Framework of the EC Vademeccum

  • What does Integrating the gender dimension in
    FP6 projects mean?
  • The Commission recognises a threefold
    relationship between women and research, and has
  • its action around the following
  • - Womens participation in research must be
    encouraged both as scientists/technologists and
    within the
  • evaluation, consultation and implementation
  • Research must address womens needs, as such as
    mens needs
  • - Research must be carried out to contribute to
    an enhanced understanding of gender issues
  • Promoting women does not mean treating them in
    the same way as men. Mens characteristics,
    situations and needs are often taken as the norm,
    and to have the same opportunities- women are
    expected to behave like them. Ensuring gender
    equality means giving equal consideration to the
    life patterns, needs and interests of both women
    and men. Gender mainstreaming thus includes also
    changing the working culture.
  • We need to go a step further by engendering
    research. This means questioning systematically
    whether, and in what sense, sex and gender are
    relevant in the objectives and in the methodology
    of projects. Many science and research projects
    include humans as subjects. There is no such
    thing as a universally neutral person. Because
    gender differences are fundamental organising
    features of life and society, recognising these
    differences has important implications in
    scientific knowledge.

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  • whoever gets to define what counts as a
    scientific problem also gets a powerful role
    in shaping
  • the picture of the world that results from
    scientific research. (Harding 199140)
  • The following list shows examples of gender
    relevant research topics
  • Gender differences are relevant in health
    research for combating diseases, and in the
  • research on genomics and its applications for
  • - In information technologies, gender disparities
    exist at user level and in the labour market. By
    assuming that information technology is neutral,
    biases can enter into technological research and
    development, which can have a negative impact on
    gender equality.
  • - Gender-specific needs could be relevant to the
    development of materials for use in the
    biomedical sector.
  • - Gender differences could exist in the impact on
    health of food products, such as those containing
    genetically modified organisms.
  • - Gender may also be relevant in the epidemiology
    of food-related diseases and allergies.
  • - Gender differences are relevant in the design
    and development of sustainable technologies and
    in sectors such as transport
  • - There are differences in gender roles and
    responsibilities, as well as in the relationship
    to the resource base, which are relevant to
    sustainable development research (land
    management, agricultural and forest resources,
    water cycle)
  • - Developments in the knowledge-based society and
    in the new forms of relationship between citizens
    and institutions in Europe have some significant
    gender dimensions.

Why Gender Action Plan?
  • To increase womens participation at all levels
    of the research workforce.
  • To allow a better understanding of the gender
    dimension in research.
  • To raise gender awareness among different
    categories of actors.
  • To highlight the responsibilities of all these
    actors in pursuing gender equality and
    implementing gender mainstreaming policies.

Gender Action Plan
  • Gender Awareness Group or equivalent structure to
    encourage networking and mentoring amongst women
  • Outreach activities such as girls days.
  • Incentives (fellowships and training awards) for
    women scientists.
  • Collect sex-disaggregated statistics of the
    research workforce.
  • Address and monitor where relevant the specific
    gender aspects in the research.

Reaching the 40 target
EC Future Priorities
  • Strengthening the gender dimension of foresight
  • Promoting gender awareness and fairness in the
    definition and measurement of scientific
  • Empowering women in decision-making and
  • Benchmarking gender mainstreaming policies and
    practices at national and institutional levels
    and developing synergies
  • Research careers increasing the knowledge base
    and redressing imbalances
  • Enhancing the role of women in innovation

  • http//
  • The Helsinki group on "Women and Science" the
    purpose of this group is to promote gender
    equality and the participation of women in
    scientific fields at European level. Meetings are
    held twice yearly and are an important forum for
    dialogue on national policies. Its main function
    is to exchange points of view, experiences and
    good practice concerning measures and policies
    developed and implemented at local, regional,
    national and European level
  • Network development Networks are an essential
    tool for making the voice of female scientists
    heard in Europe. One of the factors which results
    from the under-representation of women in science
    and research is precisely the feeling of
    isolation and the lack of support experienced
    individually by female scientists in their
    sectors The European Platform of Women
    Scientists ( supports a range of
    existing national, European and International
    women scientists from all disciplines.
  • Statistics to measure collective career progress
    for female scientists it is crucial to have
    regularly updated statistics and indicators in
    order to check whether or not the situation is
    improving and to observe variations according to
    discipline and country
  • The Enwise group The Commission set up the
    Enwise Expert Group (Enlarge "Women in Science"
    to East) to analyse the situation of female
    scientists in Central and Eastern Europe and the
  • The Expert Group "Women in Industrial Research"
    the purpose of this group is to advise the
    Commission, the Member States and private
    industry on measures to be taken to encourage
    employers in the private sector to take advantage
    of the financial benefits which they stand to
    gain from recruiting women into their businesses.

National programs
  • Ireland The Ministry of Trade and Commerce has
    devoted Euro 4.3 million to women returning from
    maternity, career or adoption to reenter their
    scientific career.
  • Switzerland Funded by the Federal Office for
    Professional Education and Technology, equal
    opportunities representatives in universities
    will be introduced, and projects that create
    favoruable conditions for women in technology, IT
    and management
  • Slovakia Commission for Equal Opportunities of
    the Solvak Academy of Sciences
  • Slovenia National Committee for Equality of
    Genders in Science, estab. By the Minstry of
    Education, Science and Sport in 2001 as
    advisory/expert body re. research policy, informs
    public and ministry about statistics
  • Norway National Committee for Promoting Gender
    Mainstreaming in Higher Education and Research
    identifies best practices and develops tools

More National Programs
  • Germany Center of Excellence Women and Science
    funded by the BMBF Center for Excellence Women
    in the Information Society and Technology
  • France Mission for Parity in Research and Higher
  • Denmark Koordinationen for Konsforskning
    funded by the Minister of Science and Technology
    and the University of Copenhagen
  • Czech republic National Contact Center for Women
    and Youth in Science
  • Israel National Council for the Promotion of
    Women in Science and Technology
  • Important fact all these programs are
    government-backed and on national / federal level

  • Statistics NSF, NAS, CRA (computing)
  • The 2006 National Academies of Science report on
    "To Recruit and Advance Women Students and
    Faculty in Science and Engineering.
  • The panel blamed environments that favor men,
    continuous questioning of women's abilities and
    commitment to an academic career, and a system
    that claims to reward based on merit but instead
    rewards traits such as assertiveness that are
    socially less acceptable for women to possess.

NAS Report recommendations
  • Trustees, university presidents, and provosts be
    leaders in changing the culture at their
    institutions to recruit, retain, and promote
  •  Deans and department chairs and their tenured
    faculty members take steps to minimize the effect
    of biases in recruiting, hiring, promoting, and
    granting tenure.
  •  Professional and higher-education organizations
    promote equal treatment of women and men, and
    start by collecting data on the numbers of women
    at various levels in math and science. The groups
    should also work to invite a diverse group of
    keynote speakers at their meetings, and ensure
    adequate representation of women on editorial
  •  Federal grant-making agencies ensure that their
    practices and rules support the participation of
    women by providing workshops to minimize gender
    bias, collecting data on grant applications, and
    creating ways to finance professors who take
    leaves of absence to care for children.
  •  Federal agencies and Congress enforce
    anti-discrimination laws at institutions of
    higher education.

NSF Advance Program
  • Goal
  • to develop systemic approaches to increase the
    representation and advancement of women in
    academic science and engineering
  • Grants
  • 3.5 million for 5 years were awarded to 9 new
    institutions a year.
  • Projects
  • Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and
    Dissemination (PAID) Awards
  • Support analysis, adaptation, dissemination and
    use of existing innovative materials and
    practices, developing national and/or discipline
    specific leadership
  • Institutional Transformation (IT) Awards
  • Support innovative and comprehensive programs for
    institution-wide change
  • Institutional Transformation Planning Grants
  • Support basic data collection and analysis
    functions necessary to understand the status of
    women faculty in academic science and eng. At
    institutions seeking institutional
  • NSF Advance Fellowships early-career,
    spouse-relocation, career interruption

  • Statistics CCWESTT, CAUT, Statistics Canada
  • Programs NSERC
  • UFA (1999-2007)
  • Regional Chairs for Women in Science and
  • Initiatives by Universities
  • Climate studies Calgary, UBC
  • Creating admin. positions (e.g. vice-deans)
    overseeing diversity issues (Alberta, UBC)
  • Institutionalization is important to make
    initiatives sustainable!

NSERC Policies with Direct Implications for
  • Extension of grants due to parental leave
  • Explanation of delays in research activities in
    grant applications
  • Eligible expenses include child care

NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering
  • 5 Regional Chairs established 1996
  • Increase participation of women in SE and
    provide role models for women in these fields
  • Established, recognized researchers
  • Total of 9 chairs since inception
  • Current Chairs have been selected to submit a
    proposal to Canadian Humanities Granting council
    on understanding factors that impact womens
    decisions to remain in SE.

NSERC University Faculty Awards
  • UFA established in 1999
  • Target retention / early career progression of
    women in tenure-track faculty positions
  • Annual budget 5 Million 110 active UFA holders
  • Award holders focus on research, receive reduced
    teaching and administrative load
  • Evaluation of the UFA program
  • Not seen as an effective recruitment tool
  • Top candidates would have succeeded anyway
  • Informal Survey 2006 Administrative and
    teaching release at key transition periods

  • It is inadequate to focus on the numbers of
    women, without regard to the conditions, in terms
    of structure and culture, under which they work.
  • Even though some European countries are doing
    very well in terms of numbers (critical mass
    reached), the Women in Science problem is not
    resolved. Contained inclusion examples from
    women US bio-medical, computer research in the
    early and mid 20th century
  • Policy needs to focus on the conditions under
    which retention and advancement takes place, as
    well as on increasing recruitment
  • In the context of lack for direct government
    support, Universities have to take an active role
    in studying and changing their climates for
    female researchers.
  • Sustained leadership from the top is crucial
    (President / Provost level).
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