Now a new study has indicated that the situation may be changing. The participation of Indian women in scientific publishing is growing in certain fields like mathematics, economics, obstetrics, gynaecology and dentistry.
The participation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research and higher studies is an issue of concern globally. Recent data from UNESCO points out a decline in gender gap in tertiary education. The proportion of females enrolled in tertiary education in India is almost on par with that of males.A gender analysis of research publications is another parameter to evaluate gender equality in scientific research.
In the new study, researchers from India and United Kingdom analysed scientific publications of 2017 to identify male or female publishing imbalances in India. They used Scopus Database to collect information about the number of articles published in different academic disciplines, after excluding those published in ‘predatory’or fake journals. They used the first name of the first author to assess the gender and thereafter grouped them according to disciplines.
In all, over 27,000 research papers were analysed. The analysis found that there is one female author for every three male authors in 186 fields listed in the database. A further look at certain disciplines like dentistry, psychology,arts and humanities found higher number of female authors - it was like 1 female author for every 1.5 male authors.
When results were compared with data from the US, it showed that female to male ratio was better in India in streams like microbiology, dentistry, economics and mathematics. For instance, the ratio in microbiology is 0.57 in India, compared to 0.33 in America.
The study points out that prejudice against women or social stigma might be factors hindering Indian women from excelling in certain streams like veterinary science, forestry, etc. There are substantial differences between India and the US in the proportion of females studying some subjects. About 46.3% of Indian women are pursing tertiary education in ‘information and communication’ compared to 23% in USA. Similarly in STEM, the female proportion is 42% for India and 33% for the US. Overall, it appears Indian women are breaking the barriers compared to counterparts in other countries.
“India could be a role model for the world if the current increase in female participation continues,” said Dr. Mike Thelwall, lead author of the study, while speaking to India Science Wire.