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India 3rd in growth of women researchers; but globally equality still far away: Elsevier report

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NEW DELHI, JUNE 21: India ranks 3rd in the growth rate of women researchers, according to a report from scientific information disseminator Elsevier, which also underlined that gender equality in the domain remains “unacceptably far away” globally.
At 2%, India’s yearly growth rate of women’s share of active researchers over the last decade was the 3rd highest, behind Egypt and The Netherlands only, the report titled ‘Progress Towards Gender Equality in Research and Innovation – 2024 Review’ said.
Analysing inclusion and diversity across disciplines and geographies over 20 years, the report found that in India, women now make up 33% of active researchers, compared to 22% in Japan and 30% in Egypt. India is now the world’s 3rd largest research producing country, it said.
“India’s rapid growth in women researchers highlights the ongoing gender equity efforts and are truly encouraging”, said Prof Sandeep Sancheti, Vice President of Research Relations & Academic Affairs at Elsevier India.
“While we have made significant headway in creating a more inclusive academic environment, challenges still remain”, said Sancheti.
Gender parity (40-60% representation is defined as parity zone in the study) among researchers in health sciences was achieved in 2022, with women representing 41% of all active researchers in India, according to the report.
In life sciences, gender parity was achieved in 2021. As of 2022, women researchers in life sciences represented 43% of the active ones, it said.
The authors found that as of 2022, globally women researchers represented 41% of those active, with a strong representation in health sciences.
They added that while women have made gains in the last 2 decades, the progress has not been uniform across fields. For example, in physical sciences women made up only 33% of the active researchers.
At the current rate, the authors of the report noted that globally, gender equality in research remains “unacceptably far away”. They projected that although numbers of women researchers in mathematics, engineering and computer science are increasing, gender parity overall is not expected until 2052.
Women also filed “vastly fewer” patent applications than men, the authors said.
“As of 2022, three-quarters of patent applications came are filed either by men alone or by teams consisting only of men. Nearly, all patent filing teams (97%) have at least 1 man in them. In contrast, just 3% of patent applications as of 2022 are filed by teams consisting only of women”, the authors wrote.
Regionally too, women’s participation in the research workforce was found to differ with those in countries including Portugal and Brazil making up about half of the active researchers, and those in the US and the UK making up 40% of the active researchers.
The report said that among active researchers working on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, women formed the majority. There were also slightly more women than men engaging in multidisciplinary research, considered important for solving complex challenges at the global level, it said.
The authors recommended accelerating efforts towards achieving gender equality in research. They also called for arresting the fall in women’s participation with rising seniority, by prioritising the retaining of early-stage career researchers into mid- and advanced-stages.
(PTI)

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