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Moderate positive trends towards closing the gender breach: the data on the glass ceiling in Spanish Research

While the proportion of women working and studying science is on the rise, there is still a long way to go, according to new data from the Científicas en Cifras 2021 Report
20 May 2021
Banner for Científicas en cifras 2021
Banner for Científicas en cifras 2021

Cientificas en Cifras is a report that evaluates the impact of gender equality plans on the overall R+D sector in Spain, identifying the ways in which gender discrimination becomes present and quantifying them. This 6th edition continues the work that the Unidad de Mujeres y Ciencia from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación started back in 2007 to improve their actions facing gender inequality.

The positive tendencies towards a more fair gender representation are visible on the number of women working in research: 41 % of all researchers. This presents an improvement over recent years, where this number stayed on 39 % since 2009, and over the average in Europe, where only 38 % of all researchers are women. This improvement is mostly localized on the public administration, leaving room for improvement on universities and private companies.

A hierarchic view of the data shows a vertical axis of discrimination: women are increasingly entering the field of research, but they are not receiving as many positions of responsibility. The main indicator of the presence of a glass ceiling for women in Spanish research is the fact that only 26 % of Grade A professors in Public Research organizations are women .

Another common indicator of gender inequality is at the entry point in higher education. While 56 % of all college students are women, the proportion lowers, dramatically in some cases, when it comes to scientific studies. In areas like engineering or technology, only about a fourth of students are women.

Measures against discrimination

These indicators are used to create and improve plans to achieve gender equality in research. The Científicas en Cifras 2021” report presents some measures to improve these numbers in future years. Some of them focus on reinforcing the already existing equality plans, like giving institutions more tools to follow through with the application of their measures, and monitoring their results. Others focus on education, helping students, professors, and other staff avoid gender biases, and giving positive reinforcement to the institutions that showcase a clear integration of the gender equality plans.

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