UK has most women in R&D worldwide but gender balance remains unchanged

Women R&D Image credit: NDAB Creativity via Shutterstock

The UK has more women working in R&D than anywhere else in the world, despite the ratio of men to women in the field remaining largely unchanged over the past decade.

Analysis from Catax, a company that specialises in innovation funding, found that the UK has 213,856 women in the R&D sector, out of a total UK workforce of 548,498.

This has ranked the UK as the number one nation for women in R&D, ahead of Germany with 187,231 and Japan with 158,927.

While the statistic is encouraging for the goal of equality in the tech industry, the optimism is mired by the reality that the percentage of women represented in the UK R&D workforce (39%), is barely an increase from the percentage 10 years ago (37.9%).

“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,” said Jodie O’Sullivan, R&D claims team manager at Catax.

“There are still six men for every four women researchers in the UK, a figure nearly unchanged in the last decade.”

The government has been keen to improve the UK’s standing as a science and tech superpower, though it has been pointed out by many figures in tech that its failure to support R&D is holding back these efforts.

O’Sullivan said that encouraging people of all backgrounds to enter R&D would go a long way to achieving UK tech goals.

“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,” she said.

“However, the industry must do more to show it is a profession that is accessible to all and offering great career opportunities.”