International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Achieving gender equality has been recognised as an extremely important and challenging task on a universal level. In 2015, for the purpose of promoting gender equality and recognising the role of women in STEM areas of science, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 11 February the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The objective of this observance is to encourage more women and girls to get involved with science, promote development of scientific careers and raise awareness of the contribution of women to science. On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of this observance, we recognise the contribution of women and girls in Croatian science through data collected by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics and the Croatian Science Foundation.

The number of students enrolled in Croatian higher education institutions in the academic year 2018/2019 included 57.1% of female students. The share of women in STEM areas of science is generally satisfactory, with the exception of Technical Sciences, where the share of female students equalled 27.5%. This piece of data clearly shows that, despite the position of women in science significantly improving, their equal representation still remains a highly relevant social matter.

One of HRZZ’s priorities has always been ensuring equal treatment of researchers, regardless of their gender, age, area of research or organization. With regard to gender structure of Principal Investigators of HRZZ-funded projects, the balance is clearly visible. Of 585 projects funded through five calls within the Research Projects and Installation Research Projects Programme (2016-2019), 285 projects are led by female PIs. Similar to DZS data, HRZZ data shows that the lowest number of female PIs works in the area of Technical Sciences.

In the domain of training new doctoral students, young female scientists are represented more than their male colleagues. Calls DOK-2018-01 and DOK-2018-09 saw 336 young researchers employed, of which 196 are women. This number is a reflection of the trend evident in Croatia from 1980s onward of a gradual rise in the number of women obtaining Master degrees. At the same time, the share of men and women who obtained a doctoral degree has been more or less equal from 2000s onward. 

The numbers presented in this short overview paint an optimistic picture for the position of women in science in Croatia. However, equality is a much more complex matter. What is needed is qualitative research that would provide a fuller insight into the position of women in Croatian science. Today, on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we invite everyone to actively take part in promoting the equality of women, not only in science but in other spheres as well, while we wish our female scientists a great deal of professional success.