What percentage of the MINT majors are female?

Cross-cutting issues

A lot of research potential is being wasted around the world because there are still too few highly qualified women working in research.

Although more girls are attending school worldwide than ever before, women are still severely underrepresented in the future-oriented MINT subjects - mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology. In order to counteract these developments, it is necessary to combat traditional stereotypes and prejudices, invest in teacher training and promote awareness-raising.

We are at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, and yet women have less than two thirds of the economic power than men. Current studies suggest that 65% of primary school children will have a job that doesn't even exist today. The jobs of the future will be determined by technology and innovation. If the gender differences in the STEM subjects are not drastically minimized soon, the global gender gap threatens to widen even further.

In order to meet the challenges of our time and to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is necessary that girls and women have an equal place in science, research and innovation and thus participate in actively shaping our future.

The United Nations has declared February 11th to be 'International Day of Women and Girls in Science' in order to bring this necessity into the public focus:

"We are determined to encourage a new generation of women and girl scientists, to tackle to major challenges of our time. Heeding the call of Greta Thunberg, young women scientists are already making a difference in the fight against climate change, including South-African teenager Kiara Nirghin whose inventions minimize the impact of droughts.
By harnessing the creativity and innovation of all women and girls in science, and properly investing in inclusive STEM education, research and development and STI ecosystems, we have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to benefit society. "

- Joint message from Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN - Women Executive Director on the occasion of the 'International Day of Women and Girls in Science' 2020.

More women in science

Gender equality in science and research is central to achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, to which all UN member states have committed themselves. Under SDG 9, this defines the common goal to be achieved by 2030: "Build a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and support innovations." We are currently far from achieving this goal; According to UNESCO statistics, only 1.7% of global GDP is spent on research and experimental development.

Currently 29.3% of the world's researchers are women. Based on data from UNESCO (2014-2016), only around 30% of all female students decide to study MINT subjects. Worldwide, there are particularly few women in the field of communication technology (3%), natural sciences, mathematics and statistics (5%) or in engineering (8%).

In Austria, too, women are clearly underrepresented in science and research. While more women than men study at the domestic universities nowadays, the gender ratio among graduates of PhD or doctoral studies is not yet balanced with a proportion of women of 42.3%. Austria ranks third from bottom in the EU ranking and also shows a smaller increase in the proportion of women. The situation is even more problematic in the MINT subjects; here the proportion of women is only 29.5%.

The dismantling of barriers in the private sphere as well as in the classroom and in the workplace are important instruments for combating gender-specific inequality in the sciences. Strong role models play a central role in questioning stereotypes and attitudes.

L’Oréal UNESCO scholarships

Against this background, the Austrian initiative of the L'Oréal-UNESCO-Scholarships sees itself as a national extension of the joint, worldwide commitment of UNESCO and L'ORÉAL to recognize the contribution of women to research and to remove career obstacles for local female scientists . Since 2007, L’ORÉAL Austria, in cooperation with the Austrian UNESCO Commission, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, has been awarding four grants a year for young basic researchers in the fields of medicine, natural sciences and mathematics. These grants help to highlight outstanding achievements by women in research.

We asked the current scholarship holders for their opinion:

'Women are still underrepresented in STEM subjects, especially in relation to stable positions, and therefore need both excellent female role models and institutional support to overcome their internal impostor syndrome, pursue their career goals and reach their full academic potential to reach. Collaborating with fellow women, building strong female support networks, and being transparent about challenges along the way can show other women that they are not alone in their struggle. Inspiring, encouraging, and guiding talented young women who may not have other support systems in their lives could be instrumental in their decision to pursue a career in science.

Dear future scientist, believe in yourself and in your own abilities! If someone tells you you can't do something, prove otherwise. Science needs you, the world needs you, and only by working together can we try to change how the system works. Surround yourself with women you look up to, ask for guidance and encouragement - but ultimately decide what works best for you and what makes you happy. Be open about your challenges in your academic career, exchange experiences with colleagues and support one another. Be on an active search for opportunities to learn and grow, be passionate and open about your science, ask exciting questions, and stay visible and heard. Strive to be the best version of yourself and, regardless of obstacles, always reach for the stars! '
- Vedrana Slipogor (biologist, specialty: cognitive biology)

'I can only suggest to any girl who is interested in science to have the courage to embark on a scientific career. Research is not gender dependent and being a researcher is the best job in the world.‘ -  Anela Lolic, Logician Specialty: Proof Theory

'When I started studying physics, I hardly had any colleagues and there weren't any female teachers. I have finally arrived in a work environment at university in which about as many women work as men. There are hardly any women for this in other institutes. There seems to be a force that pulls us humans into surroundings, that gives us role models and familiar things. I've been a mother for three years. After each birth, I stayed on parental leave for a year. If my terrific doctoral supervisor, Anna, hadn't stood up for me, I wouldn't have got another job because the contracts each ended during the parental leave period. The technical university's company kindergarten makes it easier to combine career and motherhood '- Kathrin Unger (physicist, specialty: materials science)