From the April 2018 issue

Closing the gender gap in astrophysics could take a century

At the current rate, it will take 131 years to close the gender gap in astrophysics. Only a few other fields have a greater gender imbalance.
By and | Published: April 30, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
A new study published in the journal PLOS Biology looks at the number of men and women authors listed on more than 10 million academic papers published in nearly 5,000 academic journals between 2002 to 2016. The goal was to measure how the ratio of male to female authors is changing with time, and to predict when there will be equal numbers of men and women authors in different fields.

The results are dismal for astrophysics — at the current rate, it’ll take 131 years to close the gender gap. Only a few other fields have greater gender imbalance, such as computer science and nursing. To accelerate gender parity, the authors of this study recommend stronger efforts to recruit and retain women, as well as better parental leave policies.

Diversity in science continues to be a major challenge across disciplines. At the 2017 joint Canadian Geophysical Union and Canadian Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology annual meeting, for example, only 19 percent of invited speakers were women, and women of color made up only 5 percent of all speakers. There are undoubtedly multiple contributing factors, but the bottom line is that, despite improvements, science still has a long way to go before it’s truly inclusive.

If you’d like to know more:

And you can read the original PLOS Biology paper here:

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