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Scientific and technological knowledge

Modified on 2013/05/23 12:22 by Haoyi Chen Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Education
From gender issues to gender statistics on scientific and technological knowledge: illustrative examples

Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Are women underrepresented among researchers? In what fields of science are women most underrepresented? Researchers by sex and field of science Administrative and other records from universities and research facilities.
Are young women less likely than young men to use Internet? Internet users by sex and age Household or individual ICT surveys
Records from internet providers.

  • + Gender issues
    • Women tend to be underrepresented among researchers (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2006; UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2010a; United Nations, 2010). Lower proportions of women in research are partially explained by men outnumbering women in science-related fields of study at the level of doctorates, PhDs or other advanced research degrees. Although female participation in higher education increased globally and it surpassed male participation, it remained weak in the most advanced degree programmes (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2006; 2010a).

      Some research fields are gender segregated (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2006; 2010a). For example, the fields of engineering and computing are most clearly dominated by men. Life sciences, including medicine, on the other hand, are more likely to have women predominant.

      Some other gender differences with regard to science and research are observed. Women are less likely than men to be employed in the private sector of research and experimental development than the public sector, especially in the high-income countries. Women in science and technology are often paid less than equally-qualified men and are less likely to be promoted in positions of authority and decision-making. Finally, fewer women than men are represented on scientific boards and in other positions of decision-making.

      In many countries less women than men use the Internet and computers (Eurostat, 2007; United Nations, 2010; ITU, 2011). In nearly all European countries, men are more regular users of both computers and the Internet than women. The differences between women and men in using computers and the Internet are greater in the older age groups and smaller in the young age groups (Eurostat, 2007). The gap between men and women is even wider for basic computer skills than in the use of computer and the Internet (Eurostat, 2007). In the less developed regions, gender differences in use of computers and the Internet are difficult to assess because of lack of data (ITU, 2011). Nevertheless, the few available data confirm that women seem to use the Internet less than men in the less developed regions (ITU, 2011). They also show that the gender differences do not seem to have to do with the ICTs as such, but with the differences in the social status (ITU, 2011). For example, studies based on data from countries in Africa and Latin America have shown that when women and men have similar income, education and employment status, women have comparable or even more access to ICTs than their male counterparts (Hilbert, 2011; Milek et al, 2011).

  • + Data needed
    • Researchers by sex and field of science

      Members of scientific boards by sex

      Internet users by sex and age

      Persons using mobile/cellular telephones by sex and age

      Computer users by sex and age

      Additional breakdowns are necessary to assess access to ICT across various subgroups of population: variables accounting for some differences in infrastructure, including urban/rural areas and geographic areas; variables reflecting differences in wealth status of the household and therefore the resources to own computers and have private access to the Internet; and educational variables, reflecting the literacy level and the educational attainment of users and non-users. Breakdowns by activity carried over the Internet, for women and men, may also be useful.


  • + Sources of data
    • Administrative and other records from universities and research facilities are a source of data for researchers and members in scientific boards. Also, records from Internet providers may be a source of data on female and male users, the time used and the types of activities carried out.

      Household or individual ICT surveys are a source of data on access to and use of the Internet, computers and other communication technologies. Additional data collected in these surveys, including on individual and household characteristics, can contribute to explain gender differences in the access and use of ICT.


  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • Share of women among researchers may be overestimated when only public universities and public research facilities are covered by statistics, as the private sector of research is more male-dominated than the public sector.

      Some gender-specific aspects of use of ICT are not yet captured through statistics, even in countries already producing statistics on use of ICT on a regular basis. For example, women and men may seek different types of information and carry out different activities, for different purposes and investing different amounts of time. The obstacles in accessing ICT may be also gender-differentiated.

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