) irishtimes.com - Ireland’s pay gap between men and women in R&D; highest in Europe - Mon Feb 11 01:00:00 GMT 2019

Ireland’s pay gap between men and women in R&D; highest in Europe

Last Updated: Monday, February 11, 2019, 01:00

The pay gap between women and men working in scientific research and development positions in Ireland is the largest in the European Union , with women earning on average 30 per cent less than men, research has found.

The European Commission on Monday released She Figures 2018, which presents key indicators on progress made towards gender equality in research and innovation, to mark the 20th anniversary of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The research found that in 2014, Ireland topped the list as the EU country with the largest pay gap between men and women in scientific R&D positions, falling only behind Turkey , which was included in the research as a candidate country for the EU with a gap of more than 35 per cent.

The EU average pay gap between women and men in these positions in 2014 was 17 per cent.

While the number of women at European universities now outnumbers men, the She Figures 2018 report shows women are still a minority in top academic positions.

It reveals less than 24 per cent of senior scientific posts were held by women in 2016, a slight increase on the 22 per cent of senior positions held by women in 2013. Only one in five heads of higher education institutions across Europe are women.

The average number of female PhD graduates across the EU is now 47.9 per cent, almost on par with the number of male graduates, with the number of women PhD graduates is increasing by an average of 2.3 per cent per year compared to an increase of 1.4 per cent among men.

In Ireland, 21 per cent of women hold senior academic jobs while 36 per cent of scientific research positions are held by women. However, internationally the number of women who hold research positions has barely risen since 2012, with female researchers making up a third of the entire cohort.


The report cautions that while gender balance exists among research positions in the humanities and the arts, the number of women researching the fields of engineering and technology is significantly lower. Women are overrepresented in the fields of research in medical and health sciences, it notes.

The report warns of an “extremely low” number of women among patent inventors and that for each inventorship made by a woman in the EU, there are 10 inventorships made by men. These figures have not changed much since 2010 and while signs of progress can be seen, the pace remains slow, says the report. Arguments have been made that this low number of patents by female applicants is because most applications come from scientific fields where men predominate, it adds.

Pace of change

Commenting on the report’s findings, Carlos Moedas, European commissioner for research, science and innovation, warned that if the pace of change continues at the current speed, women working in science would have to wait until 2149 before the gender pay gap is closed.

Mr Moedas underlined the need for a “serious discussion” around the use of quotas in universities and institutes while calling for an end to the practice of considering career breaks as “career breakers”. He also called for unconscious bias towards women in science to be brought out into the open.