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Gender in the Global Research Landscape: Focus on Engineering

on Fri, 12/09/2016 - 17:32

By Marilynn Larkin 

Gender diversity issues pervade all scientific disciplines in all key arenas, including the workplace, publishing and leadership/innovation. In a recent Engineering Village webinar, Dr. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier’s Vice President, Global Academic Relations and co-chair of Elsevier's Gender Working Group, and Nita Patel, founder of the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference and Systems and Software Engineering Director at L-3 Warrior Systems, explored the issues and highlighted initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality.

Elsevier is keenly aware its responsibility to promote gender equity in publishing, given that it publishes 17% of the world’s STM (science, technology, mathematics) articles and 29% of the world’s most highly cited articles, Dr. Falk-Krzesinski said.

The company’s deep commitment to gender issues is exemplified in several large-scale initiatives undertaken over the past decade, including:

  • The  Elsevier Foundation New Scholars program, which supports family-friendly policies around skills training, dual career issues and professional visibility;
  • The STMJ Gender Working Group, which helps ensure that Elsevier produces the most robust research possible in the most inclusive way;
  • Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena,” which provides the research community with an evidence base for targeted gender interventions; and
  • Attainment of the first level of EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certification, the leading global standard for gender equality in the workplace.

Most recently, Elsevier published a groundbreaking report,” Gender in the Global Research Landscape,” which will officially be released in Washington DC on March 31, 2017 (sign up here for updates). During the webinar, Dr. Falk-Krzesinski offered a sneak peek of the report’s data specifically related to engineering. For example, she reviewed per country data from 1996 through 2015  in areas such as the proportion of women and men among named author profiles; scholarly output per author profile; and field-weighted citation impact for women versus men per location and time period.

Dr. Falk-Krzesinski then looked at the results of a “leadership” analysis based on the premise that if a researcher is a first or corresponding author on a paper, it is likely that her role was central to the research project with respect to execution, guidance or funding. Although the research output of women and men was similar, she noted, an analysis of first or corresponding authors by gender revealed that men took the leadership position more frequently than women in every country studied.

Dr. Falk-Krzesinski also pointed out that women trail somewhat behind men in both international research collaborations and academic/corporate collaborations—and although women outpace men in interdisciplinary collaborations, interdisciplinary papers tend to have a lower citation impact. See the webinar for details.

Ms. Patel followed with an overview of IEEE Women in Engineering, which aims to facilitate the global inspiration, engagement and advancement of women in technical disciplines. Women in Engineering (WIE) currently has more than 18,000 members in 100 countries and some 2,100 volunteer leaders. More than 1,000 events are held yearly, including the IEEE WIE Leadership Summits.

The upcoming International Leadership Conference, to be held May 22-23 in San José, California, is expected to  draw more than 1,500 attendees from more than 40 countries, and feature more than 100 presentations, Ms. Patel said. She invited viewers to tune into IEEE’s WIE video channel to explore videos related to the conference, as well as those by women in leadership positions at major corporations telling their stories, solving real-world problems and revealing lessons learned. In addition, women engineers forging innovative career paths provide inspiration as they describe their work under the banner “I change the world. I am an Engineer.”

Ms. Patel encouraged webinar attendees to view more videos on the IEEE WIE Facebook page or YouTube channel. She explained the importance of “challenging the status quo with regard to practices that don’t facilitate inclusion,” noting that Elsevier pulled an ad in 2014 in a marketing campaign that lacked gender diversity. She reminded the audience to “facilitate diversity and inclusion in everything you do” and encouraged involvement in employee or student resource groups dealing with gender issues.

Unconscious bias is a key factor in gender inequalities, Ms. Patel acknowledged. She urged the audience to become aware of their biases by taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test  and Facebook training on managing unconscious biases.

In response to a question, Ms. Patel noted that IEEE WIE gender equality events and initiatives are open to everyone, nonmembers as well as members of IEEE.

Engineering Village posts webinars and blogs related to diversity and inclusion of women in engineering, and invites your ideas, stories and contributions by tweeting to us using @EngVillage #WIE. 

Dr. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, is Vice President for Strategic Alliances in Global Academic Relations for Elsevier, 
where she is focused on how insight from data and analytics guide strategic planning for research institutions 

and science policy. Dr. Falk-Krzesinski is also broadly involved in promoting early career researchers and 
women leaders in STEM, serving on the US National Institutes of Health’s BEST program External Scientific 
Panel and co-chair of Elsevier’s Gender Working Group. 




Nita Patel, P.E., is a Systems and Software Engineering Director at L-3 Warrior Systems. She was named the 2014 
L-3 Engineer of the Year and the 2011 New Hampshire Engineer of the Year award for her technical contributions 
to the engineering profession. Patel is founder of the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference, 

past International Chair of IEEE Women in Engineering International, second Vice President of the IEEE Computer 
Society Board of Governors and Board of Governor member for IEEE Eta Kappa Nu.