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Research and innovation
News article8 March 2019Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Gender balance in research is improving, but pace is too slow: EU She Figures

The number of women with a career in research is slowly growing in Europe. Still, they remain significantly underrepresented, and their potential not fully recognised and valued.

These are some of the key findings of the European Commission’s She Figures 2018 report, which monitors the level of progress made towards gender equality in research and innovation in the European Union. It is funded under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

Welcoming the publication of the full report on the International Women’s Day, Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

The She Figures confirm that things are moving in the right direction. Yet we need to do more and we need to do it faster if we are to achieve a good gender balance in the near future. We need all scientific talents in play, both women and men, to tackle challenges like climate change and global pollution.

The She Figures 2018 highlights that on average, women now outnumber men at student and graduate levels and there is broad gender balance at PhD level. However, their distribution in the different scientific fields of study is uneven, which shows the persistence of gender stereotypes.

The presence of stereotypes is especially strong in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), where women remain underrepresented at all levels starting as students (32% at Bachelor, Master or equivalent level) up to top academic positions (15%). Furthermore, women still make up the minority of top academic positions.

To gain more insights into the prevailing gender inequalities, some new indicators are introduced in the She Figures 2018 report. Some provide information on the different education pathways chosen by young women and men and their progress to top education levels. Others measure the propensity of women and men to work alone, in same-sex teams or mixed teams as patent inventors.

On the positive side, the report confirms that the EU is integrating the gender dimension in the content of scientific literature better than the world average. This will significantly increase the quality and reliability of outcomes, as they will reflect the biological characteristics, needs and attitudes of both women and men.


Published every three years, the She Figures is the main source of pan‑European, comparable statistics on gender balance in science. The data also sheds light on differences in the experiences of women and men working in research – such as relative pay, working conditions and success in obtaining research funds. The report is produced in cooperation with the Member States, associated countries, and Eurostat.


Publication date
8 March 2019
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation