Ratio of women in UK’s R&D workforce unchanged for a decade

Female scientist

Recent analysis has shown that more than 213,000 women are working in research and development (R&D) in the UK – more than anywhere else in the world. 

UK employers have hired 67,645 more female researchers in the last decade, yet the UK ratio of women working in R&D compared to men is almost unchanged at 39% in the past 10 years. 

The analysis of OECD data by Catax (a Ryan company) shows the UK has 213,856 women working in R&D out of a total workforce of 548,498.    

While the UK has the highest number of women working in R&D, in terms of the ratio of women to men, it is down in 12th place. 

Argentina has the highest proportion of female researchers at 53%, followed by Latvia with a nearly 50-50 split. Argentina and Latvia are the only countries where the number of women in the R&D workforce is greater than men. 

Jodie O’Sullivan, R&D Claims Team Manager at innovation funding specialist Catax, is a Biochemistry graduate who made the transition into a professional services role after finishing her bachelor’s degree. 

She commented: “The UK should be proud that it is home to so many female researchers, but there is still a way to go to improve the gender balance. There are still six men for every four women researchers in the UK, a figure nearly unchanged in the last decade. 

“Government ambitions to make the UK into a science superpower, with huge levels of investment, means this is an incredibly exciting time to be working in R&D. However, the industry must do more to show it is a profession that is accessible to all, and offering great career opportunities.” 

Table 1: Countries with the most female researchers 

Rank Country Female researchers  

2019 

Female researchers 2009 % change over past decade 
1 United Kingdom 213,856 146,211 46.3% 
2 Germany 187,231 121,631 53.9% 
3 Japan 158,927 121,141 31.2% 
4 Russia 136,074 154,725 -12.1% 
5 Korea 113,187 51,073 121.6% 
6 Spain 99,772 84,352 18.3% 
7 Turkey 90,168 41,528 117.1% 
8 Italy 75,878 50,525 50.2% 
9 Poland 73,175 38,794 88.6% 
10 Argentina 48,139 33,967 41.7% 

 

Table 2: Highest proportion of female researchers 

Rank Country Proportion of female researchers  

2019 

Proportion of female researchers 2009 % change 
1 Argentina 53.1% 52.1% 2% 
2 Latvia 50.6% 52.4% -3% 
3 Lithuania 49.1% 51% -4% 
4 Romania 46.9% 44.7% 5% 
5 South Africa 46.2% 40.8% 13% 
6 Portugal 42.8% 44.3% -3% 
7 Estonia 42.5% 42.5% 0% 
8 Spain 41.3% 38.1% 8% 
9 Slovakia 41% 42.5% -3% 
10 Russia 39.1% 41.9% -7% 
11 Greece 39% * * 
12 United Kingdom 39% 37.9% 3% 

* Data not available

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