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Scientific and technological knowledge

Modified on 2015/05/21 10:38 by Sean Zheng Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Education
Table II.5

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 the Internet? Internet users by sex and age. Household or individual information and communications technology (ICT) surveys.
Records from Internet providers.

  • + Gender issues
    • Women tend to be underrepresented among researchers (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2006, 2010a; United Nations, 2010). Lower proportions of women in research are partially explained by the fact that men outnumber women in science-related fields of study at the level of doctorates, PhDs or other advanced research degrees. Although female participation in higher education has increased globally, surpassing male participation, it has 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. In the life sciences, including medicine, on the other hand, women are more likely to be predominant.

      A number of other gender differences with regard to science and research can be observed. Women are less likely than men to be employed in the private sector of research and experimental development than in the public sector, especially in high-income countries. Women in science and technology are often paid less than their equally-qualified male counterparts. They are also less likely to be promoted to positions of authority and decision-making. Lastly, fewer women than men are found on scientific boards and in other decision-making positions.

      In many countries, fewer women than men use the Internet and computers (Seybert, 2007; United Nations, 2010; International Telecommunication Union (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 computer and Internet use are greater in the older age groups and smaller in the younger age groups (Seybert, 2007). The gap between men and women is even wider for basic computer skills than it is for computer and Internet use (Seybert, 2007).

      In the less developed regions, gender differences in computer and Internet use are difficult to assess owning to a lack of data (ITU, 2011). Nevertheless, the few data available confirm that in the less developed regions, women seem to use the Internet less than men (ITU, 2011). They also show that gender differences seem to have less to do with information and communications technology (ICT) as such, but to differences in 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 greater access to ICT vis-à-vis their male counterparts (Hilbert, 2011; Milek, Stork and Gillwald, 2011).

  • + Data needed
    • Data on scientific and technological knowledge usually refer to:

      (a) Researchers by sex and field of science;

      (b) Members of scientific boards by sex;

      (c) Internet users by sex and age;

      (d) Persons using mobile/cellular telephones by sex and age;

      (e) Computer users by sex and age.

      Additional breakdowns are necessary to assess access to ICT across various subgroups of population. They include variables accounting for differences in infrastructure, including urban/rural areas and geographical areas; variables reflecting differences in the wealth status of the household and, therefore, the resources to own computers and to have private access to the Internet; and educational variables reflecting the literacy level and educational attainment of users and non-users. Breakdowns by activity carried out 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 of scientific boards. In addition, records from Internet providers may be a source of data on sex of Internet users, duration of use and Internet 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 through these surveys, including on individual and household characteristics, can help to explain gender differences in access to and use of ICT.

  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • The 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 ICT use are not yet captured through statistics, even in countries that are already producing statistics on ICT use on a regular basis. For example, women and men may seek different types of information and carry out different activities, for different purposes and for different amounts of time. Obstacles in accessing ICT may also be gender-differentiated.

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