Data published this week by the Federal Statistical office show there are nearly twice as many men as women in research and development (R&D) in Switzerland.
In 2020, 36% of R&D researchers were women (64% were men). In Europe, Switzerland trailed Iceland (45%), Portugal (43%), Spain (42%), Russia (39%) and Norway (39%) on this measure. However, Switzerland was ahead of Italy (35%), Finland (33%), Sweden (33%), Austria (30%), France (28%) and Germany (28%).
In some fields female researchers outnumbered men. 57% of researchers in agriculture and veterinary science were women, as were 53% of researchers in the humanities and arts. In health and social sciences the split was roughly 50/50. However, in research in the fields of natural sciences (33%) and engineering and technology (26%), where much R&D is done, the percentages of women were low, dragging down the overall average.
These R&D gender splits echo other data. Figures from a 2010 report show women in Switzerland were far more likely than men to study veterinary medicine, social sciences and humanities to a high level – 85%, 59% and 58% of doctoral students in these fields were women. On the other hand, women were under represented in fields such as natural sciences, mathematically heavy sciences (exact sciences) and engineering – 44%, 15% and 14% of doctoral students in these fields were women.
Authors of the same 2010 report said that in Swiss institutions of higher education, men are numerically dominant both in admissions and graduations in practically all degree levels of the exact sciences, mechanical and electrical engineering, economics, as well as civil engineering and geodesy. In most degree levels, a large majority of the student body gaining admission to and graduating from degree programmes in veterinary medicine, linguistics and literary studies, pharmacology, and the social sciences and humanities are female. In the universities of applied sciences, the male-dominated fields are architecture and construction (over 70% men both for admissions and graduations) and engineering and IT (well over 90% both for admissions and graduations). On the other hand, women are clearly in the majority in the fields of health, social work, applied linguistics and applied psychology.