03.07.2008 -

Women in Science. Italy and the International Context. 2008

Just Published in cooperation with UNESCO Office in Venice.


Science and technology are fundamental to assuring humanity's welfare and enabling continued improvements in length and quality of life. In recent years, there was an increasing recognition of a global need for a larger science and technology workforce, especially of women and youth. The situation of women in science is of particular relevance in this context: while women constitute half of the humanity, the number of women who pursue a successful scientific career is much lower than that of men, even in countries where they have access to higher education and scientific disciplines.



Observa – Science in Society, with the cooperation of UNESCO Office in Venice presents a classified collection of data and information on the presence of women in science and their attitudes toward research and innovation, with contributions by well-known female scientists and researchers, such as the Nobel Prize Rita Levi Montalcini and the astrophysician Margherita Hack.

Who are the female students most proficient in mathematics and sciences? Which country has the largest number of women employed in technical-scientific sectors? In what country are female researchers paid the most? How many Nobel Prizes have been won by women? Are European women interested in scientific research? How many female readers of science periodicals are there in Italy? Who do women trust when scientific issues are debated?

With this first edition of Women and Science. Italy and the International Context, published with the cooperation of UNESCO Office in Venice, Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE), Studio Pirovano Consulting S.r.l., and the FaiR association, Observa – Science in Society presents a classified collection of data and information gathered from the most authoritative national and international sources and useful for understanding the present state and ongoing changes in gender relationships in the world of science and research in Italy and abroad.

The publication divides into three parts. The first furnishes an overview on the topic ‘Women in Science’: the mathematical and scientific abilities of female students attending upper-secondary school, the professional careers of female graduates and postgraduates in scientific disciplines, Nobel Prizes awarded to women, the female occupancy of key roles in organizations, statistics on applications for patents and funding by female researchers. When possible, the data are presented in comparative terms, with reference to both male counterparts and the situation in other countries.

The second part of the book is devoted to ‘Science for Women’ and focuses on gender attitudes towards, and perceptions of, research and innovation: women’s interest in scientific research, their attendance at events and exhibitions on science, the opinions of European researchers on the female presence in research, the image of science among young Italian women, the priorities of research according to women.

The last part, ‘Women and Research: Find out More’, collects resources on the theme of gender relations in the Italian scientific community: a chronology of the main events during the year on the theme, the statistical sources from which the data are drawn, books and articles published on the theme during the year, references to institutions, scientific awards, and websites devoted to gender issues in scientific research.

Addressed to policy-makers, researchers, business people, journalists, and opinion leaders particularly interested in gender issues regarding research, the aim of Women and Science is to promote and contribute to open and well-informed debate among researchers, social partners, policy-makers and media on gender issues in Italian science and research. Accordingly, the intention is to create regular occasions to monitor trends and changes in the sector through the constant updating of data and information.

A synopsis of the key tables and graphs has been included in the book, aiming at providing an English overview of the publication.

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Links :

Observa website : http://www.observa.it

UNESCO Contact :

Iulia Nechifor Programme Specialist at i.nechifor(at)unesco.org


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