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Factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in science careers worldwide: a literature review

Abstract

The paper analyses the literature related to the underrepresentation of women in the scientific field to identify the factors that affect this underrepresentation worldwide. This literature review covers 470 papers—published in journals with the highest impact factor from 1985 to 2018—that address the factors that influence the access, participation, and progress of women in scientific careers. This literature review was based on the complete readings of the papers using thematic analysis. The factors that influence women’s access, participation and progress in careers related to science and technology are a complex problem with multiple interdependent factors. In addition, these vary according to the stages of women’s lives and cultural contexts. This paper proposes, based on the literature review, a comprehensive framework to explain the factors that influence the access, participation, and progress of women in science careers. The factors are grouped as follows: (a) individual, (b) family, (c) social, (d) educational, and (e) labor-economic. The proposed research is useful for researchers and policy makers because it introduces this phenomenon schematically and orderly identifies the gaps in past research studies, and evidences the need to conduct further research on this topic.

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Avolio, B., Chávez, J. & Vílchez-Román, C. Factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in science careers worldwide: a literature review. Soc Psychol Educ 23, 773–794 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-020-09558-y

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Keywords

  • Women in science
  • Gender
  • STEM
  • Literature review