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.
Stark differences<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY0OTU1MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc1MzUxMX0.2BjC0TFV2k0nMsCp6l2BNTNNAXKxFP_3CbR-Cawp8kc/img.png?width=980" id="81cd4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="70bd347752880bb69e1359c81db5628b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Women scientists and engineers are in the majority in five countries across Europe." data-width="1663" data-height="1104" />
Women scientists and engineers are in the majority in five countries across Europe.
Credit: NASA, CC BY 2.0 / Infographic: Ruland Kolen<p>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); <em>see graph</em>.</p><p><span></span>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.</p><p>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. <br></p>
Women and Girls in Science<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY0OTU1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MjMwNzY2Mn0.0kvUV1GjRnKLMJwywhYSjvXkkb1KXTKC_VUJ5Syy6rs/img.jpg?width=980" id="82a0e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d61beeebbdaa8376f9eca2a0614ae090" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bShades of orange: less than 40% of women in science and engineering. Shades of blue: more than 40%. Dark blue: more than 50%." data-width="1701" data-height="1622" />
Shades of orange: less than 40% of women in science and engineering. Shades of blue: more than 40%. Dark blue: more than 50%.
Credit: Eurostat<p>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.</p><p><span></span>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).</p><p><span></span>The largest gains were made in:</p><ul><li>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.</li><li>Denmark, which saw its share rise by 26.9 percentage points over the same period, from 24.8 percent.</li><li>Norway, where the share rose by 19.8 percent, from just 35.3 percent in 1999.</li><li>And France, which saw a 17.2-point increase from 28.9 percent in 1999 to 46.1 percent in 2019.</li></ul><p>However, increases were not the norm everywhere. In some countries, the share of women in science and engineering actually went down.</p><ul><li>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. </li><li>Estonian women also lost their majority in science and engineering, dropping from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 43.6 in 2019. </li><li>In Hungary, women lost 5.9 percentage points over two decades, falling from 38.5 percent to 32.6 percent.</li><li>And in Belgium, the female share of scientists and engineers fell back from 47.9 percent in 1999 to 44.8 percent in 2019.</li></ul>
Women underrepresented<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY0OTU2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjQyNDcwNH0.sbSSkGkilC3xX5yL-OsQJRY9PIIOB1qh0z0_sc0BogY/img.jpg?width=980" id="d1919" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="268bb5ae1c9bba68b29d29003960ebea" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bWomen scientists and engineers were least present in manufacturing (21%), while the services sector was much more balanced (46% women)." data-width="640" data-height="425" />
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<p>At the regional level, the discrepancies are even more pronounced.</p><ul><li>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).</li><li>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).</li><li>Poland, slightly lower, manages two regions over 50 percent: East (54.5 percent) and Central (50.9 percent).</li><li>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).</li><li>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).</li></ul><p>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).</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>Map and data found <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurosta..." target="_blank">here</a> at <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat" target="_blank">Eurostat</a>.</em></p><p><em></em><strong>Strange Maps #1069</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a><em>.</em></p><p>(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.</p><p>(2) NUTS stands for <em>Nomenclature d'unités territoriales statistiques</em>, 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. <br></p>
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.
The field they work in is quite cutting edge.
- "Directed" evolution is a kind of coaxing, and speeding up of, evolution itself.
- The committee referred to the work of all three as "The foundation for a revolution in chemistry."
- Frances H. Arnold is the fifth woman to win the prize in chemistry in its 117-year history.
How they did it<p>The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners are Frances H. Arnold at the California Institute of Technology, Sir Greg Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the U.K., and George P. Smith at the University of Missouri. They all <a href="https://qz.com/1409908/how-the-winners-of-the-2018-nobel-prize-in-chemistry-wield-the-power-of-evolution/" target="_blank">used variants</a> of existing chemistry studies to find solutions to problems such as creating biofuel from sugars, as well as altering human antibodies to fight things such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.</p><p>Arnold, only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history, won half of the prize, with Winter and Smith sharing the other half.<br></p>
Coaxed mutation<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY4ODQwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NDY2MTk3NH0.wLb3ss5F9XhBw4nmWqv4PS6nVOly-o2t1mDl7fmGkQw/img.jpg?width=980" id="24303" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="21f9ac6c424ad8bb018a7f69ed13ded0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Analysis of CsoS1A and the protein shell of the Halothiobacillus neapolitanus carboxysome. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons<p>Arnold flipped the entire idea that chemists had followed for decades on its head. Sort of.</p><p>You see, chemists before her spent lots of research and time trying to create enzymes that would perform things beneficial to humans, such as producing a drug that would be far too expensive to make in a factory. <br></p><p>This proved impossible; enzymes are far too complex to be harnessed like that. </p><p>Enter Ms. Arnold. She decided that by altering the genes that produce enzymes, via purposefully-introduced cell mutation that was even slightly closer to the desired results, eventually the cells produced would mutate again and again until they got to a desired point of behaving as she wanted them to.</p><p>Since she pioneered this technique in the 1990s and other scientists have followed suit, pharmaceuticals and even chemistries that didn't exist previously have been successfully created via those enzymes. This has meant a reduction in harmful chemicals previously used to create similar effects, but critically, it's also produced a fascinating possibility for future humans: biofuel, created from simple sugars into alcohol via mutated enzymes.<br></p><p>Arnold was asleep in a hotel room in Texas when her phone rang with the news, according to NPR. <br></p><p>"And at first, of course, I thought it was one of my sons, with a problem," <a href="https://www.npr.org/2018/10/03/653915709/nobel-prize-in-chemistry-honors-the-power-of-evolution" target="_blank">Arnold said</a>. "But then it was a wonderful feeling. They told me that I had won the Nobel Prize!"<br></p>
The cures that began as phages<p> <br> </p><script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p> Meanwhile, the second Nobel Prize winner, Sir George P. Smith, <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2181394-chemistry-nobel-prize-awarded-for-harnessing-evolution-to-help-humans/" target="_blank">found a class of viruses</a> called "phages," which would actually invade bacteria and hijack their mechanisms. Greg Winter then built upon that work to alter antibodies, which are always on the lookout for foreign invaders in our bodies — specifically, proteins that are the building blocks of invaders such as viruses — and then "tagging" or marking those invader proteins so that other antibodies can collect and mass an attack. </p><p> Winter actually changed the genetics of those antibodies so that they'd instead seek the proteins that cause such things as rheumatoid arthritis. Other scientists then took that process and targeted diseases and viral attackers, such as lupus and anthrax. Alzheimer's disease is quite possibly a future target for this, as is metastatic cancer.</p>
"The greatest benefit to humankind"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY4ODQyNC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2Mjk5NjYyOH0.HT1vrTkzizBdLH-xDYhJn0_6nJhzpz6Ek8gQAvYxP5A/img.png?width=980" id="e886b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="84c9cac09001cd96667f210d88422307" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Screencap from "Announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018" video below
By Nobel Prize Committee<p>The Nobel committee, in its announcement of the awards, <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/10/revolution-based-evolution-honored-chemistry-nobel" target="_blank">summed it up</a>: "The directed evolution of enzymes and the phage display of antibodies have allowed Frances Arnold, George Smith and Greg Winter to bring the greatest benefit to humankind and to lay the foundation for a revolution in chemistry."<span></span></p>
The announcement as it happened:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5c8deac32f1c1b50dee47eaa82e31f3"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yc97ATQvVow?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Strickland, whose research helped advance the field of laser science, is the only living female Nobel laureate for physics.
- Strickland, a 59-year-old Canadian physicist, helped develop a technique that led to many laser technologies used today.
- Two other women have won the Nobel for physics; one in 1963, the other in 1903.
- Strickland shares the award and $1 million prize with two other scientists, Arthur Ashkin and Gerard Mourou.