Global STEM Workforce

Global STEM Workforce: Science National Academies Members

A recent study conducted by GenderInSITE (Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology, and Engineering) in collaboration with the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the International Science Council (ISC) was published in September 2021. This report included results from two global surveys. Over 120 national science academies and disciplinary associations from across the world participated in the surveys and reported on women’s science participation. The report found that women’s representation remained low from 2015 to 2020 across various countries in the world. Specifically, in the U.S., while women’s representation in the National Academy of Sciences has increased from 13% to 19%, women still comprise less than one-fifth of members of this academy.

Global Members of NSA Despite the low representation of women among academy membership, women fare better among those who govern the academies themselves. That is, women comprise 23% to 59% of the governing body across national academies of sciences in the world. For example, while the National Academy of Sciences in the United States has 17 individuals in their governing body, more than half (59%) of them are women. Similarly, women comprise the majority of the governing body of the Royal Society of Canada. However, women still represent less than half of the governing in most other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Global Women Rep in Gov Body of Acadamies

Global STEM R&D Researchers and Personnel

In 2017, the percentage of female science and engineering researchers and personnel in research and development (R&D) across the world was about 30% according to a UNESCO brief report (UNESCO, 2020), which highlights a gender disparity in R&D labor force.

Still, there are regions in the world where there is almost gender parity among R&D researchers. For instance, women in Central Asia represent 48.5% of R&D researchers while women in Latin America and the Caribbean comprise almost 46% of R&D workforce. However, gender imbalance is abysmal in other regions in the world, including East Asia and the Pacific and South and West Asia, where women represent 25% and 23% of the R&D personnel, respectively.

Female Researchers as a % of Total R&D Personnel/Researchers (Head Counts), by Region, 2017

title Global STEM Workforce - global stem workforce
Source: UNESCO, Fact Sheet No. 60.

Examining the R&D personnel of selected countries by gender also reveals women’s underrepresentation in this workforce. Among the selected countries, India has the lowest female representation, where less than 17% of R&D personnel were women in 2018. Spain had the highest female representation, where 40.5% of their researchers are women.

Female Researchers as a % of Total R&D Personnel/Researchers (Head Counts) of Selected Countries, 2018 (or latest year available)

title Global STEM Workforce - global stem workforce

Global STEM Workforce in Frontier Roles

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 (World Economic Forum, 2021) provided an update on the gender gap in frontier roles and frontier skills as observed in data from the LinkedIn platform. These professional clusters* were identified as those with increasing employment projections from across 20 leading economies. Overall, women’s representation increased slightly across most of the professional clusters, with the exception of the People and Culture cluster. For example, their representation among those in Engineering and Data and AI increased from 15% to 20% and from 26% to 32%, respectively. While their representation among professionals in the People and Culture cluster decreased slightly from 65% in 2020 to 61% in 2021, they still remain over-represented among professionals in these roles. Additionally, women in professional and technical roles represent 61% of those in Content Production, 44% in Marketing, 37% in Product Development, and 14% in Cloud Computing.

* The professional clusters were determined based on similar skill sets required.

Percentage of Female Workers, by Professional Cluster

Female workers by prof cluster
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

Moreover, in selected countries, women comprise less than a quarter of all workers in cloud computing and engineering jobs. In all, 39% of all jobs held, as reported in the LinkedIn platform, were held by women; however, women represent only 12% and 15% of the workers in cloud computing and engineering occupations, respectively. The United States does have slightly higher proportions of women in cloud computing (14%) and engineering (23%) jobs, which may mirror the overall higher percentage of all (47%) jobs held by women. Still, Canada (16%), Australia (19%), and India (20%) also stand out for having slightly higher female representation in engineering occupations.

Percentage of Female Workers in Selected Countries, by Professional Cluster

title Global STEM Workforce - global stem workforce
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

In the most recent Global Gender Gap Report (2022), data from Coursera showed that there were distinct gender differences in online training enrollment targeting various skills. For instance, women were well-represented among those enrolled in courses aimed at developing skills in working with people (56%), self-management (53%), and business (50%). However, women were under-represented among those enrolled in courses that develop skills in digital and technology (30%), broadly, and specifically, in mathematical thinking (36%), technology design and programming (30%), and technology use monitoring, and control (29%). Additionally, the report presented information regarding the disruptive technology skills attributed to those in leadership roles using LinkedIn data. Similar to the skills course enrollment, a higher proportion of men than women attributed more importance to technology skills (9.46% vs. 6.23%).

Online Training Enrolment in selected Skills, by Gender, 2021

WEF GGG report skills
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2022

Relative Importance of Selected Disruptive Technology Skills among Leaders, by Gender, 2021

Disruptive Tech Skills by Gender
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2022

Additional Resources