Lithuania’s exceptional progress towards closing the gender gap in science

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According to the OECD, only about 40% of researchers in all OECD member nations are women on average. Moreover, women make only 15% of scientific authors in engineering, physics, and astronomy. Closing the gender gap in science is still one of the most pressing issues we face today.

According to the UN Environment Program, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are critical to the development of science that is trustworthy, representative, and meaningful. Stereotypes, bias, the lack of role models are all considered reasons for women not being well-represented in STEM fields. European countries and cities are taking different approaches towards addressing this major issue. 

While there is certainly a lot of room for improvement, it seems that some European countries and cities are also witnessing positive trends in this regard. When Eurostat announced the gender diversity in science data for 2019, Lithuania was crowned a new leader in this field, with more than half of the country’s scientists and engineers being women. This is the highest proportion of female scientists and engineers among all EU countries, with proportions ranging from 55 percent in Lithuania to 28 percent in Luxembourg in 2019.

The European Commission stated in their She Figures 2021 publication: ‘’The results from Lithuania show that in 2010 and 2018, women represented 57.9% of doctoral graduates, a proportion which is above the European average of 48.1%. This indicates that women are better represented than men amongst doctoral graduates in Lithuania. Overall, the proportion of women among doctoral graduates in Lithuania was ranked as the highest in the EU-27 in 2018.’’

The presence of female role models in traditionally male-dominated areas is a smart method to overcome stereotype obstacles, in tech and all other industries. The list of International Rising Talents was announced by the L’Oréal Foundation and the UNESCO For Women in Science initiative in 2019. Dr. Urtė Neniškytė, a neuroscientist at Vilnius University’s Life Sciences Centre, was included among the 15 most promising researchers.

Dr. Urtė Neniškytė, quoted by the website of the Vilnius University, stated: “It is a great honour for me to be a part of such an incredible community of exceptional women who are passionate about searching for answers to the burning questions of modern science and constantly expand mankind’s knowledge. Receiving this award is proof to me, that I am on the right path.’’

According to the website Lithuania.lt, the smallest Baltic state makes an ideal area for women to work in the IT industry because it is one of Europe’s fastest-growing life sciences hubs and has thriving ICT, financial technology, video game, and laser industries. Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital and largest city, is making global headlines as a city with a vibrant tech scene which keeps getting even more vibrant and international.

Lithuania was ranked second among OECD countries with 49% of women in science, technology, and innovation in a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This and other rankings demonstrate that Lithuanian women are active in the scientific and technology fields and that there are certainly some positive developments regarding this issue. Continuing down this path and successfully closing the gender gap will undoubtedly allow Lithuanian cities to thrive further. (photo credit: freepik)