Female researchers are under-represented in the Colombian science infrastructure

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Abstract

Worldwide women have increased their participation in STEM, but we are still far from reaching gender parity. Although progress can be seen at the bachelor’s and master’s level, career advancement of women in research still faces substantial challenges leading to a ‘leaky pipeline’ phenomenon (i.e., the continuous decrease of women’s participation at advanced career stages). Latin America exhibits encouraging rates of women participation in research, but the panorama varies across countries and stages in the academic ladder. This study focuses on women’s participation in research in natural sciences in Colombia and investigates career progression, leadership roles, and funding rates by analyzing data on scholarships, grants, rankings, and academic positions. Overall, we found persistent gender imbalances throughout the research ecosystem that were significant using classical statistical analyses. First, although women constitute >50% graduates from bachelors in natural sciences, <40% of researchers in this field are female. Second, women win <30% of research grants, and in turn, their scientific productivity is 2X lower than that of men. Third, because of the less research funding and output women have, their promotion to senior positions in academic and research rankings is slower. In consequence, only ~25% of senior researchers and full professors are women. Fourth, the proportion of women leading research groups and mentoring young scientist in Colombia is <30%. Our study deepens our understanding of gender gaps in STEM research in Colombia, and provides information to design initiatives that effectively target gender disparities by focusing on key areas of intervention, and then gradually building up, rather than tackling structural inequities all at once.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0298964
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume19
Issue number3 March
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

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