Female representation and participation in national science academies globally are insignificant, despite efforts to promote the role of women in science.
The ‘Women for Science: Inclusion and Participation in Academies of Science’ report, which was supported by the Inter Academy Panel (IAP) and published by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), found the average share of women members across 69 national science academies to be 12%.
As the first comprehensive survey of member academies of the IAP, the report further found that women represented 10% or less of the members of 30 of the 69 academies.
The report documented the results of two surveys undertaken by the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences and ASSAf targeting IAP member countries.
The report pointed out that great strides had been made in enrolling more women in undergraduate courses, especially in the biological and chemical sciences, but that significant challenges remained in ensuring that the best women scientists were able to have fulfilling careers with increasing levels of responsibility.
National academies with the largest share of women members were the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences. The national science academies of Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Honduras were among the top ten academies with the largest share of women members.
Women were best represented in the social sciences, humanities and arts, followed by the biological sciences and the medical and health sciences; however, women’s representation as academy members was lowest in the mathematical and engineering sciences.
Findings for the three global science academies – Islamic World Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Art and Science and the World Academy of Sciences – showed a similar picture; that women were best represented among academy members in the social sciences and humanities.
The National Academy of Sciences in the US, together with two European academies in Switzerland and Sweden, had the best representation of women as members of the governing body