She Figures 2012


In 2012, the European Commission published the fourth She Figures issue since 2003. The She Figures provide information on the situation of women in science and research based on data which are collected every three years by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, in close cooperation with the Helsinki Group on Women and Science and its Statistical Correspondents. A set of indicators describes the participation of women at all levels and in all scientific disciplines.

The analyses presented in the She Figures 2012 show that women throughout the EU 27 are still under-represented in the research sector. Only one third of European researchers are women, even though initially female graduates outnumber their male colleagues. Between 2004 and 2010 the glass ceiling index (barrier that prevents highly qualified women from rising to top level positions) in the EU 27 showed only slow progress (1.9 to 1.8 – the higher the score, the thicker the ceiling). Women are also under-represented in decision making bodies across the EU. On average, only 10% of universities were headed by a female rector and 15.5% of institutions in the Higher Education Sector were led by women throughout the EU 27 in 2010.

In 2009, the Austrian proportion of female researchers was 28%, which was below the EU 27 average (33%). However, the Austrian compound annual growth rate for female researchers between 2002-2009 stood at 10.9% (compared to male researchers with 4.4%) and is significantly higher than the EU 27 average (5.1% for female researchers and 3.3% for male researchers). The Austrian glass ceiling index decreased from 2.39 to 1.9 between 2004-2010.

When comparing the increase of female students to the disproportionately large gender gaps, it is evident that it is insufficient to argue that women will catch up with men over time. Thus effective policies are essential to reduce these gaps.