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[BUENOS AIRES] Although women make up half of Argentina's scientists, they hold only a small proportion of senior scientific positions in the country, according to a new survey

A study by Proyecto Gentec - Grupo Redes, a non-governmental association devoted to research on the relations between science and society, shows that the proportion of women scientists in Argentina increased from 37 per cent in 1993 to 48 per cent in 2000, and has remained at this level since then.

But the survey also found that only 10 per cent of the women scientists have senior positions, and that within research teams, most women occupy relatively junior positions

“Women's participation in science and technology in Argentina may appear to be balanced but, in fact, this is not the case," says María Elina Estebanez who led the survey.

For example, in 2001, only seven of more than a hundred scientists occupying the most senior positions in Argentina's science and technology council, Conicet, were women.

Male dominance also exists in decision-making bodies in science, says Estebanez. For example, only 12 per cent of individuals on Conicet's appointments and promotion committees are women.

"The patriarchal Argentinean society does not accept women in powerful positions,” says Silvia Kochen, a neurologist from Conicet and co-ordinator of the Argentinean Technology, Science and Gender Network.

Marcos Machado, scientific director of the Argentinean space agency, also believes that there is a gender bias in science. “Machismo is a deep-rooted custom in our country," he says "In addition, some women have to look after their children and do not have time to attend key meetings."

Estebanez proposes that a minimum quota should be set for the number of senior science administrative posts occupied by women, and calls for women to be better represented on appointment and promotion committees. She also proposed that specific agencies that give grants and awards for women scientists should be opened.

The survey, which was funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was presented at two workshops called “Women, Science and Technology: Diagnosis and Strategies”, in Brasilia, Brazil, and Asunción, Paraguay, this month.

Link to survey by María Elina Estebanez et al

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