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
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(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.
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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
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 used variants 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.
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.
Analysis of CsoS1A and the protein shell of the Halothiobacillus neapolitanus carboxysome. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Arnold flipped the entire idea that chemists had followed for decades on its head. Sort of.
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.
This proved impossible; enzymes are far too complex to be harnessed like that.
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.
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.
Arnold was asleep in a hotel room in Texas when her phone rang with the news, according to NPR.
"And at first, of course, I thought it was one of my sons, with a problem," Arnold said. "But then it was a wonderful feeling. They told me that I had won the Nobel Prize!"
The cures that began as phages
Meanwhile, the second Nobel Prize winner, Sir George P. Smith, found a class of viruses 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.
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.
"The greatest benefit to humankind"
Screencap from "Announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018" video below
By Nobel Prize Committee
The Nobel committee, in its announcement of the awards, summed it up: "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."
The announcement as it happened:
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.
The 2018 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three physicists, including one female, for their work in advancing laser science. It marks the third time a woman in physics has won the award.
Donna Strickland, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada and self-described 'laser jock', shares the award and a $1 million prize with Arthur Ashkin, a retired American physicist, and Gerard Mourou, a professor at the École Polytechnique in France and University of Michigan.
In the 1980s, Strickland and Mourou developed a technique called chirped pulse amplification, which produces ultra-short and "ultra-sharp" laser pulses through a three-part process that involves stretching, amplifying and compressing a laser beam. The pair outlined their landmark research, which led to the development of many medical tools including those used to perform laser eye surgery, in a 1985 paper. It was Strickland's first time being published.
Ultra-sharp laser beams make it possible to cut or drill holes in various materials extremely precisely – even in living matter. Millions of eye operations are performed every year with the sharpest of laser beams.#NobelPrize pic.twitter.com/MiYb4i8AHw
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 2, 2018