SCIENCE IS STILL a man’s world. Since 1903, when Marie Curie first won the Nobel Prize, almost 600 blokes but only 19 women have taken home the coveted award in physics, chemistry or medicine. In the realms of more ordinary talent, just 28% of the world’s researchers are women. Even in the EU, where the sexes are more equal than in other parts of the world, a mere two-fifths of scientists and engineers are women. In Germany and Finland, it is less than one in three.
Eastern Europe bucks the global trend, according to a recent report from Leiden University in the Netherlands. In Lithuania, 57% of scientists and engineers are women. Bulgaria and Latvia follow close behind, at 52%. Universities in Poland and Serbia were ranked among the best in the world for sexual equality in research publications. South-east Europe is roughly at parity: 49% of scientific researchers in the region are women. Some of this is a legacy of Soviet times, when communist regimes pressed both men and women into scientific careers and did not always give them a choice about it. The coercion has gone, but the habit of women working in labs has remained.