New initiatives help women to achieve better positions in science in Brazil

For many years, women did not have a significant role in Brazilian scientific areas, however, little by little they managed to reach the top. Currently, women represent the majority on higher education, but this is not yet reflected in the labor...

For many years, women did not have a significant role in Brazilian scientific areas, however, little by little they managed to reach the top. Currently, women represent the majority on higher education, but this is not yet reflected in the labor market, men still earn more and suffer less unemployment (Education at Glance, OECD, 2019). Shown below are some examples and initiatives to improve the presence of women in the fields of science in Brazil.

Maternity leave and productivity scholarship

Since 2018, research scholarship students have the right to maternity leave (also for adoption). They will be entitled to put academic activities on hold for up to 120 days, however, still receiving their scholarship.

In addition, Researchers funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) recently gained the right to an additional year of funding when they have children. With this measure, CNPq ensures minimum conditions so that mothers with scholarships are not forced to interrupt their research which was the case for many researchers before the new rule.

Márcia Barbosa, full professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, researcher and president of the CNPq Physics Advisory Committee, states that one of the barriers that women scientists face is to reconcile career and motherhood. “This additional year that CNPq grants will allow researchers to recover the less productive period in terms of articles and to continue their careers, that is, it provides a solution for continuity. I am sure that it will allow extremely talented researchers to make contributions in the system, fundamental to Brazilian science”. She also defended and formally sent CNPq the request for the extension of the scholarship with the extra year.

New Online Platform

The online platform “Open Box of Science” was launched February last year. It is an initiative of the Organization “Gênero e Número” (Gender and Number), supported by the Serrapilheira Institute. Its objective is to make the work of women in science visible through narratives and data.

Combining data journalism and interactive design, a cartography was created with 250 researchers. There are 50 protagonists in five major areas: Biological Sciences, Applied Social Sciences, Exact and Earth Sciences, Engineering and Health Sciences. For each researcher mapped, it is possible to access relevant articles from her scientific production, news reports and pictures.

Scientific publications

Data released by the Organization of Ibero-American States (OIE) shows that Brazil is the Ibero-American country with the highest percentage of scientific articles signed by women as main authors or as co-authors. Between 2014 and 2017 the country published 53,000 articles, 72 percent of which were produced by women.

According to Leiden Ranking, survey carried out by the Center for Science and Technology Studies at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, the University with the most presence of female scientist in Brazil is the State University of Maringá (UEM) in Paraná’s State, it is also on second place in the world in this ranking. The ranking takes into account articles cataloged by the Web of Science, a database that gathers scientific research from all over the world.

UEM stood out in the production of articles made by women in areas such as Physics and Engineering, a fact that placed the university among the most productive in the country in research in the area.

Professor at UEM’s Computer Science Department Linnyer Beatrys Ruiz Aylon believes that there is much to be celebrated. She points out that women scientists have an invisible routine, dividing time between experiments, classes, caring for the family and many other social roles. Linnyer agrees that doing science is always a little more complicated for women. “For all these reasons, I consider the ranking spectacular. It reflects well the efforts that we have made to excel in science”. In 2013, Linnyer received the IEEE Women in Engineering award from the Institute of Eletrical and Eletronics Engineers. The award was a recognition for its contribution in the area of ​​computer systems, which is inserted at the intersection of computer science and microelectronics and for the representation of women in science.

Ana Carolina Bussacos & Jacob Paulsen


Education at a Glance OCDE

Open Box

Instituto Serrapilheira

Source: Agência Senado, Agência do Estado do Paraná