Women in Scientific Careers

Unleashing the Potential

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While women account for more than half of university graduates in several OECD countries, they receive only 30% of tertiary degrees granted in science and engineering fields. This publication presents the proceedings of a recent international workshop to assess the underlying causes behind the low participation of women in scientific careers, especially at senior levels, and to identify good practice policies to attract, recruit and retain women in scientific careers in public and private research.



Part 1. Introduction

Why should the OECD governments be concerned with women in scientific careers? According to OECD Deputy Secretary-General Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir, who opened the workshop, the available data show that the number of female students enrolled in science courses is much higher than the number of women actually employed in research occupations. There is thus a risk that much of the social and individual investment in human capital is lost if a large part of that investment does not find itself participating in economic activities. Another reason for concern about women in science has to do with achieving equality between men and women in all walks of life, a societal goal with a long historical process in OECD countries. Arguably, women bring in different perspectives and research interests and as such can contribute to improving the quality of research. Furthermore, scientific integrity itself depends on non-discrimination.


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