What Is gender equality in science? 8 dimensions identified

29 Apr 2019

Why do inequalities persist between male and female scientists, when the causes are well-researched and widely condemned? Researchers from our Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace have identified the many dimensions involved in achieving equality.

Presenting eight definitions of gender equality, we show each is important but incomplete. Rigid application of any single equality indicator can therefore have perverse outcomes.

Inequalities Are Well-Documented

Despite decades of research and intervention, female scientists receive fewer opportunities and less recognition than their male counterparts, and women are less likely than men to occupy leadership roles, or to work in mathematics-intensive fields such as physics and engineering. Why do these inequalities endure in our profession? One reason is that there are multiple hidden, and sometimes competing, assumptions about what constitutes equality. There is no single definition of success, and narrow focus on any one aspect of equality can have unintended consequences.

Success Is Hard to Define and Measure

The principle of gender equality is widely embraced but not clearly defined. [We provide] eight definitions and associated indicators of gender equality, each of which is valid but has implicit limitations. This is not a matter of semantics, but reflects the complex nature of the problem. Equality has multiple dimensions because inequalities arise from numerous interactions and feedbacks between actions at individual, family, workplace and societal scales. 

Read the full paper