Workforce data was assembled from a range of sources and covers the disciplines of political science, sociology, philosophy, history and economics. Comparing this data is complicated by the different methodologies used to obtaining the original figures, as well as the varying categories used to count staff and the time periods covered. As an example of the problems encountered, a data profile of women in economics in Australia was difficult to obtain.
There are other methodological issues. First, the researchers on the GESS project understand the inadequacies of binary gender identification and acknowledge that the counting of ‘women’ may not capture all people who identify as such and that labelling the ‘non-women’ in the figures as ‘men’ similarly fails to capture a range of gender identities.
Second, many of the counts were undertaken manually by assigning gender to a name. Where there was doubt or ambiguity, an online search of the person was done to resolve the question. If no resolution was possible, that name was assigned as ‘unknown’.
Third, much of the counting was requested of time-pressured organisations and many did not respond, or were unable to fulfil the request. The figures are accordingly incomplete in some areas.
The comparative analysis – between disciplines and between countries – of the workforce and other data is ongoing and will be added to this website as the project progresses.
Women in Economics Network noted that women are disappearing throughout the academic pipeline. While women represented half of all research and teaching fellow positions in economics departments, they made up just over a quarter of senior lecturers, a mere 15 per cent of all associate professors and professors. The share of women in the top echelons of the discipline across the eight most prominent Universities is as low as 10 per cent (Wood, 2017).
In the 2015 the Australian Research Council's Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation framework collected data on gender for the first time. The published details of this data give figures on academic appointments in the discipline of economics.
Since 1999 the Canadian Women Economics Network has conducted three surveys of economics departments and business schools to audit women’s representation in the discipline. In 2015 the survey found that women remain underrepresented in the economics academic community, with women holding one in four permanent positions in economics departments.
Since 1997 the Royal Economics Society Women’s Committee has commissioned ten reports monitoring data on the status of women in the UK economics profession. The proportion of women in professorial levels almost tripled between 1996-2014 and the share of women in lecturer positions has more than doubled.
The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession has regularly produced a comprehensive report on the status of women in the profession since 1972. Its first 1972 revealed women’s under-representation in the economics discipline. Its 2016 report shows that despite the significant ground gained, women remain a minority in economics faculties.
Departments and schools of history were asked to provide numbers of men and women in full-time ongoing appointments at all levels. The numbers provided show that the gender division of academic appointments in the discipline of history are more equitable than the other the other social science disciplines in this study.
In 2009 women represented 28 percent of the staff in the discipline of philosophy in Australia. This is an increase from women holding just 4 per cent of continuing teaching and research positions in 1970.
A 2013 the Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA) report of historical trends of equity survey data found significant improvements in gender balance throughout the ranks of tenure and tenure-track faculties over the past two decades.
A survey of 38 philosophy departments between 2008 and 2011 suggests that there is significant leakage of women from the philosophy discipline in the UK. Women were particularly well represented in senior lecturer positions (28 per cent), however, they represented a mere 19 per cent of professorial positions.
Data on the status of women in the philosophy discipline in the United States is patchy. The available data confirms women’s under-representation in the discipline.
Despite some gains, women represent one in four professor and associate professor positions and one in three of lecturer, fellow and post-doctoral positions.
Evidence collected from Canada, while not directly comparable with the Australian data, suggests similar patterns facing women in the political science discipline. As in Australia, women make up less than one in three political scientists in Canada.
Evidence collected from the United Kingdom, while not directly comparable with the Australian data, suggests similar patterns facing women in the political science discipline. As in Australia, women make up less than one in three political scientists in the UK.
Evidence collected from the United States, while not directly comparable with the Australian data, suggests similar patterns facing women in the political science discipline. As in Australia, women make up less than one in three political scientists in the US.
There is limited information on women in the discipline of sociology but some figures can be gleaned from The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) collection of employment status of their membership.
There has been an attempt by the American’s Sociological Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Sociology to monitor the status of women in the discipline every five years.
One measure of the effects of large numbers of women in the discipline of history is to look at the presence of women in academic history's public engagement. In this case, we looked at the online forum 'The Conversation'.
A count of authors of peer-reviewed articles in four history journals in Australia shows gender balance in the generalist journals and a predominance of male authors in the field of political history.
The presence of women in disciplinary associations was measured by counting presidents/chairs and committee members published on association and society websites and by contacting associations for the gender division of their members. At first glance, there appears to be gender balance, however, there are sub-fields in history where men still dominate.
A positive picture emerges when counting female editors of history journals in Australia, although the composition of editorial boards shows women at less than 40 per cent.
History has a roughly equal gender balance among school and university students in the UK, but more than 60 per cent of academic history staff are male and only around 20 per cent of history professors are female.
New data to support the analysis - and monitor the outcomes - of gender equality in Australia was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 25 August.
The influence of women historians/feminist thought on the discipline of history was sought through a search in six academic journals for words that indicate research concerned with gender or feminist issues, and by producing word clouds of topics in four academic journals.
The International Political Science Association (IPSA) has been monitoring women’s engagement in political science associations since 1995.
Student enrolment in history courses shows that more women than men study history at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in Australian universities.