Despite overall increase over the past 20 years, share of women in science and engineering falls in some European countries
- Norway's 55% of women in science and engineering is a massive improvement over the past two decades.
- 20 years earlier, just over a third of Norwegian scientists and engineers were women.
- Europe overall progressed from 30% to 41%, but some countries saw a dramatic drop.
Women scientists and engineers are in the majority in five countries across Europe.
Credit: NASA, CC BY 2.0 / Infographic: Ruland Kolen
In Norway, 55 percent of all scientists and engineers last year were women. That is more than in any other country in Europe (1). In 2019, only four other European countries had female majorities in science and engineering: Lithuania (just under 55 percent), Latvia (52.7 percent), Denmark (51.7 percent) and Bulgaria (just over 50 percent); see graph.
Throughout Europe, stark differences persist in the participation level of women in science and engineering; as this map of Europe's NUTS1 regions (2) demonstrates, those differences show up not just between but also within European nations – and not always where you'd expect them.
The worst-performing countries were Luxembourg (just below 28 percent), Finland (30.5 percent), Hungary (32.6 percent) and Germany (33.3 percent). But Germany contains both the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (45.6 percent), well above the EU27 average; and Baden-Württemberg (29.1 percent), the worst performing NUTS1 region in Europe outside Luxembourg.
Women and Girls in Science
Shades of orange: less than 40% of women in science and engineering. Shades of blue: more than 40%. Dark blue: more than 50%.
This map was published by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, on February 11, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Eurostat has data going back 20 years, showing serious progress towards gender parity in science and engineering across Europe, as well as some setbacks.
In 2002, the first year for which figures are available for the entirety of the current 27-member European Union (EU27), women scientists and engineers represented 30.3 percent of the total. Last year, after 17 years of steady rise, that figure had reached 41.1 percent. That represents 6.3 million women scientists and engineers, versus 9.1 million men working in those fields (adding up to a total of 15.4 million scientists and engineers in the EU).
The largest gains were made in:
- Switzerland, where the share of women scientists and engineers increased by 30.6 percentage points over 20 years, from just 10.7 percent in 1999 to 41.3 percent in 2019.
- Denmark, which saw its share rise by 26.9 percentage points over the same period, from 24.8 percent.
- Norway, where the share rose by 19.8 percent, from just 35.3 percent in 1999.
- And France, which saw a 17.2-point increase from 28.9 percent in 1999 to 46.1 percent in 2019.
However, increases were not the norm everywhere. In some countries, the share of women in science and engineering actually went down.
- Nowhere more than in Finland, where women had a slight majority in 1999 (50.9 percent) but fell back by 20.4 points to less than a third (30.5 percent) in 2019.
- Estonian women also lost their majority in science and engineering, dropping from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 43.6 in 2019.
- In Hungary, women lost 5.9 percentage points over two decades, falling from 38.5 percent to 32.6 percent.
- And in Belgium, the female share of scientists and engineers fell back from 47.9 percent in 1999 to 44.8 percent in 2019.
Women scientists and engineers were least present in manufacturing (21%), while the services sector was much more balanced (46% women).
Credit: NASA, CC BY 2.0
At the regional level, the discrepancies are even more pronounced.
- Three NUTS1 regions have higher shares of female scientists and engineers than Norway: the Portuguese region of Madeira (56.8 percent), North and Southeast Bulgaria (56.6 percent) and Northern Sweden (56.4 percent).
- Spain only just misses out on reaching half overall, but has five regions that pass the mark: North-East (53.2 percent), East (52.1 percent), Canary Islands (51.9 percent) North-West (51.7 percent), and Centre (51 percent).
- Poland, slightly lower, manages two regions over 50 percent: East (54.5 percent) and Central (50.9 percent).
- Even further down the list, Turkey nevertheless has three regions which also score over half: Orta Anadolu (51.9 percent), Akdeniz (50.9 percent) and Kuzeydogu Anadolu (50 percent).
- Contrasting with the balanced scores in these sub-regions are the NUTS1 regions in western Europe where women are underrepresented, notably the whole of Italy (<40 percent) and the western half of Germany (<35 percent).
Considering the various economic sectors, Eurostat notes that women scientists and engineers were least present in manufacturing (21 percent), while the services sector was much more balanced (46 percent women).
Map and data found here at Eurostat.
Strange Maps #1069
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
(1) For the purpose of this map, 'Europe' comprises the EU plus a number of adjacent states: Iceland, Norway, the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Turkey.
(2) NUTS stands for Nomenclature d'unités territoriales statistiques, French for 'Classification of Territorial Units for Statistics', an EU-developed standard with three geographical levels. The first one is large enough to include smaller countries in their entirety. Luxembourg is small enough to be a single NUTS region on all three levels.
From STEM kits to fashion dolls, these creations all came from the minds of female inventors and designers.
- You love the games and toys they made, but do you know their names?
- The women behind these products are engineers, CEOs, and accomplished designers.
- Learn about the creators while adding their toys to your holiday shopping list.
Most people have heard of major toy and game companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Parker Brothers and have, for generations, purchased their products. Unfortunately, not as many people know the names of the individuals behind those board games, playsets, and action figures. Being an inventor is often a thankless job, especially for historically marginalized groups. While many creators have already been forgotten to time, the women on this list don't have to be.
From an iconic doll introduced in the 1950s, to a popular building block game, to new STEM kits designed to inspire young girls to become engineers, what the toys and games in this gift guide all have in common is that they were first designed (and often prototyped) by creative women. Some of them became entrepreneurs and still run their own successful toy companies, while others never got the credit and compensation they truly deserved. In honor of the brilliant minds that made them, here are 7 of the best toys and games invented by women that you should consider adding to your holiday shopping list.
Born in Tanzania and raised in West and East Africa, Leslie Scott was inspired to create Jenga after reflecting on her childhood. The game was based on one that Scott's family played using wooden blocks. Scott wanted a strong name that would become synonymous with the game. She chose Jenga, which comes from the Swahili word kujenga, meaning "to build."
Debbie Sterling created GoldieBlox to give young girls a curious female engineer character to look up to. With maker kits ranging from an inventor's mansion to this smartphone projector, girls can learn to build and customize their own fun toys and objects. Major companies wouldn't back Sterling's vision because they said that girls would not be into engineering play, so Sterling launched her own Kickstarter campaign and successfully launched GoldieBlox as an innovative and independent toy company.
Monopoly as we know it was introduced in the 1930s, but Elizabeth Magie's "The Landlord Game" dates back to around 1903. Magie originally created two sets of rules for the game: one that rewarded players for creating monopolies, and another that rewarded everyone for creating wealth. The game was not a cash cow for Magie, but a man named Charles Darrow was able to hijack her idea and sell his version for millions to the Parker Brothers. Controversial past aside, the game is an undisputed classic that has divided and delighted families for generations.
LittleBits building block kits include magnetic modular "bits" that can be configured and reconfigured to perform various functions. The color-coded pieces teach builders about electronic circuitry in a way that is fun and easy to understand. LittleBits CEO and founder Ayah Bdeir told Entrepreneur.com that her company's kits are designed for boys and girls and that "accessibility helps everyone to unleash creativity and instill a love of STEAM through the cycle of inventing."
While recovering from polio in a hospital in San Diego in 1948, a retired teacher named Eleanor Abbott created a board game to keep young patients entertained during their long and often painful treatment cycles. Candy Land was well-received by the sick children, so Abbott decided to pitch it to Milton Bradley the following year. The sugary-themed game was bought and quickly became the company's best-selling title. Five and a half decades later in 2005, Candy Land was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The idea for the Moonlight Storybook Projector came from Natalie Rebot's bedtime ritual of making shadow puppets with her daughter using the flashlight on her smartphone. After building a prototype and launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rebot left her career at Google and turned Moonlight into a full-fledged company. There are now story reels available for the projector from Disney and other major publishers.
Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler debuted the first Barbie doll at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Named after her daughter, Handler was inspired to create the fashion icon after watching how young Barbara played with her paper dolls. Barbie has since had over 180 different careers and has spawned a pocket universe of friends, family, pets, vehicles, and structures. This doll in particular, designed by Caroline DeMersseman, commemorates the figure's 60th (diamond) anniversary and features an elegant ball gown with silver earrings.
When you buy something through a link in this article Big Think earns a small affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.
If you've ever had an affinity for machines or just wanted to know how to fix faulty household gadgets on your own, then learning the basics of electrical engineering might be up your alley.
- The Ultimate Electrical Engineering Master Class Bundle offers a complete introduction to creating and servicing electronics and electrical systems.
- Electrical engineers earn over $86,000 a year.
- The courses teach circuit fundamentals, power design and even solar energy basics.
If you’ve ever had an affinity for machines or just wanted to know how to fix faulty household gadgets on your own, then learning the basics of electrical engineering might be up your alley. It’s also a highly lucrative career path, with the average electrical engineer earning over $86,000 annually.
The training in The Ultimate Electrical Engineering Master Class Bundle can satisfy both the idle tinkerers as well as those looking to turn the pursuit into a vocation.
Over five courses covering more than 43 hours of instruction, the collection serves as a wide-ranging overview of all the fundamental principles of electrical engineering as well as the tools of the trade.
New learners will earn a full understanding of power systems, circuit breakers, grounding systems, ring main units, transmission lines, and more. The courses cover electric DC circuits and important theorems to how all these pieces work together. There’s even coursework that introduces students to concepts of electrical distribution, machine operations and what it takes to construct an efficient, money-saving solar energy system.
Buy now: You can get this entire Electrical Engineering Master Class course bundle for just $25 while this offer lasts.
Prices are subject to change.
When you buy something through a link in this article or from our shop, Big Think earns a small commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.
A gift guide of the hottest educational toys for your budding scientist, engineer, or mathematician.
- STEM toys help children build important science, technology, engineering, and math skills.
- From fossil kits to programmable robots, there are lots of great options for kids of all ages.
- This STEM gift guide will set you on the right path this holiday season.
When it comes to shaping how the world will look in the future, the power of learning through play can not be overstated. From brain-teasing puzzles to fun experiments, there has been a widespread push for learners of all ages to have access to products that are both stimulating and engaging. According to industry research, 91% of parents believe that STEM/STEAM-focused toys can help their children develop skills like cognitive reasoning, critical thinking, and design, but what exactly is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM adds an "A" for the arts). Building from a decades-old idea that these were important tools for helping humanity understand and interact with the universe, Judith Ramaley (former director of the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Division) coined the term back in 2001. Since then, educators, scientists, and parents have been developing new ways to incorporate the elements into classrooms and play dates. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Education invested $540 million to support STEM educational programs. The demand for STEM toys is high, but there are a lot of great products out there, so here are 10 that you should add to this year's shopping list.
The ThinkFun Gravity Maze is part marble run and part logic game. The brightly colored pieces make constructing towers fun, and there are 60 challenges ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert that will teach your builder planning and spatial reasoning skills.
Artie 3000 makes coding fun by adding in a bit of artsy flare. Beginner and more advanced coders can use programming languages to turn the cute Wi-Fi-enabled robot into a tabletop Picasso. The designs range from pre-coded geometric shapes to more complex mandalas, or whatever your young coder can come up with. No internet connection is required! All you need is 4 AA batteries and a phone, computer, or tablet to connect to and Artie 3000 is ready to draw.
This activity set from National Geographic takes the chance out of rock and mineral hunting and replaces it with loads of educational material about the over 200 specimens included in each set. Armed with a magnifying glass, an identification sheet, and an identification guide, young geologists can spend weeks studying rough and polished minerals, cracking open geodes, and learning about prehistoric sharks and other sea creatures.
Rated ages 6 to 96, this cool terrarium kit allows young scientists to build an ecosystem and watch it grow. Complete with a plastic jar, potting mix, chia and wheat grass seeds, figurines, sand, stones, and glow-in-the-dark stickers, the only ingredients needed to bring the terrarium to life are water, time, and an inquisitive mind.
What sets the Mathlink Builders game apart from other building toys are the activity cards and uniquely shaped pieces. Children are asked to count pieces according to color as they build and are challenged to think critically as they attempt to solve more complex puzzles. The 100-piece toy also allows children to create from their own imaginations.
Using instructions in the Challenge Booklet, children ages 3+ have to connect wagons to the Brain Train and fill them based on the shape and color of the available pieces. Each of the 48 challenges has one only possible solution, which means that players have to concentrate and problem solve to figure it out. When they do, they have a cute and colorful train to roll around!
A sneaky way to turn screen time into learning time, this app-based globe connects to smartphones and tablets to make discovering monuments, animals, and cultures around the world more interactive. 3D animations, hundreds of entries, and over 1,000 fun facts equal hours of productive play and a greater appreciation for the planet.
The Nintendo Switch is great as a gaming console, but it has the potential to be so much more. The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit includes projects for building RC cars, a fishing pole, motorbike handlebars, a house, and a piano. The kit is great for collaborative engineering projects, and the pieces are made of cardboard so you won't need any special tools to get playing.
Harnessing the power of 3 AAA batteries (not included), this logic game teaches the fundamentals of electronics in a way that is challenging and dynamic. There are 60 maze challenge cards included in each set. The goal of each is to build a closed circuit, and the reward for doing so is a beacon that will light up almost as brightly as your future electrical engineer.
Magnets! These clear geometric tile sets are popular because of the limitless possibilities they afford creative thinkers. From architectural structures to fictional creatures, children learn to use color, shape, and space to form three-dimensional objects. They also learn about the polarity of magnets and what it takes to keep a structure from toppling over (gravity, etc.).
When you buy something through a link in this article Big Think earns a small affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.
Modern life hinges on satellite connectivity. President of Kraus Aerospace Fatema Hamdani explains how the science of perpetual flight is unfolding, and how to defend satellites and drones from enemy fire.
- How far can a drone fly? Kraus Aerospace is developing nonstop drones powered by cutting edge technology, like A.I. that recognizes thermal columns so drones can soar like birds rather than actively expending thrust energy.
- Watch drone footage in the video above to see this technology in action! These drones can also be hand-launched.
- Fatema Hamdani, cofounder and president of Kraus Aerospace, explains the enormous cost of landing and relaunching drones and satellites, and why nonstop performance is a desirable alternative. It also has applications in national security and disaster relief: "[With this tech] we would have been able to bring up Puerto Rico from them not having connectivity for months or a whole year, to days," she says.