Paper: Slovenia still far from gender balance in science

Koper, 26 February - With fewer than half of all scientists being women, Slovenia is still far from closing the gender gap in science, the newspaper Primorske Novice says on Tuesday.

The question of whether women can participate in the academic world on an equal footing with man is still relevant in the Europe of the 21st century.

This can be seen from the latest available data on Slovenian researchers showing nearly 7,400 men and only 3,900 women work in the science and research sector.

UNESCO data shows the share of Slovenian women scientists is at 36.5%, which is bad. It puts Slovenia ahead of Finland and Denmark, yet behind Poland and Turkey.

But gender differences practically disappear when it comes to how many men and women earn a PhD, which means men with the highest level of education opt for a career in science more often than women.

The paper says the reasons for this are surely complex, but being optimistic and supposing humanity is on its way to fully realise all of its intellectual potential, it is clear we are still far from the goal.

Statistics for central Slovenia show that in 2016, there were almost 6,000 researchers, as opposed to fewer than 1,000 in the three statistical areas of the western Primorska region.

The Koper-based newspaper points to two women astrophysicists from the University of Nova Gorica that President Borut Pahor has honoured with the Apple of Inspiration.

It says this is "the least Tanja Petrushevski and Gabrijela Zaharijaš, who work for a small private university on the western edge of the country on an equal footing with their fellow researchers from the most prestigious international teams, deserve".

Petrushevski was honoured for discovering the first supernova which created a double neutron start as part of a team at the California Institute of Technology.

Zaharijaš meanwhile received the accolade for her research of outer Galaxy light with satellite Fermi as part of an international team of researchers.

"An apple a day is definitely not enough to achieve gender-balanced science," concludes Primorske Novice's commentary This Scientist Is a Woman.