Number of female researchers in Germany up 25% in 5 years

Over the past five years, the number of female researchers in Germany has grown far more rapidly than that of male researchers. Female-only publications are the most internationally collaborative while mixed gender publications are more interdisciplinary than the mono-gender ones, highlights a new study by Elsevier launched today ahead of the European Gender Summit in Berlin.

Solid data on research productivity incorporating metrics on gender representation has been conspicuously absent from national debates on how to bridge the gender gap in science. The Elsevier report, “Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena”, delivers a unique contribution to this debate by combining data on gender representation among German researchers with trends in research performance.

The main findings presented in the report include:

  • The number of female researchers in Germany has increased by 25 percent over the past 5 years (2010: 43,728 and 2014: 54,742); for males this increase has been 9.8 percent (2010: 111,605 and 2014: 122,593).
  • For Germany, female-only publications are the most internationally collaborative; while mixed gender publications are more interdisciplinary than the mono-gender ones.
  • In subject areas with gender ratios skewed in favour of males, female researchers are more likely to focus on similar topics as their male counterparts. In contrast, in subject areas with more balanced gender distributions, women tend to focus on different topics.
  • Female researchers in Germany are only slightly less productive than their male counterparts as measured by publication output (2.07 versus 2.34 publications per year); their publications in the period 2010-2014 have a somewhat lower citation impact (1.68 versus 1.75)
  • The difference between publication productivity between female and male researchers is smallest for senior researchers. For German junior researchers, the productivity of male researchers is 9.9 percent higher than that of female researchers; for mid-career researchers it is 17.6 percent; the percentage declines to 3.4 percent for senior researchers.

The study pilots a novel methodology to analyse gender in research combining two data sources: Scopus, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database, and a large social media networking service. The data behind the analyses cover the year range 2010-2014.

With Germany holding one of the lowest percentages of female researchers in Europe1, findings presented in the report provide insights into existing gaps which should help drive further investigation and identification of underlying factors causing the discrepancies among male and female researchers.

“The results of this report should encourage German research institutions to examine their internal structures for possible discriminatory mechanisms that affect the route that young woman scientist take to advance to senior researcher,” said Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer, Co-founder of the Gender Summit and director of Portia Ltd, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving gender equality and the gender dimension in the STEM sectors, “Making full use of the potential of both their male and female researchers will maximize output and quality of research in Germany.”

Angelika Lex, Vice President Academic Relations, Elsevier, added, “Over the years, the Gender Summits have shown us that gender diversity in research leads to more robust science–which benefits all of society. We see this study as a unique analytics contribution to help decision-makers design targeted interventions in support of gender equality in science — an issue, which was recently underscored by the ratification of the UN Sustainability Development Goals2 and which we are deeply committed to at Elsevier and through the work of the Elsevier Foundation. ”

“Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena”, was developed by Elsevier’s Analytical Services team, part of Elsevier Research Intelligence Solutions.


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