In light of the recent awkward results of the Royal Society’s University Research Fellowships in the UK where only 2 of the 43 successful candidates where women, it was encouraging to find in the announcement earlier this week that of the ten 2014 Rutherford Discovery Fellows, five were women. However, analysis of gender balance in previous years shows it hasn’t always been so promising for females and numbers of women are still well behind those of men (see table).
The overal success rate is currently 11.5% (range: 8.7-15.2%). Gender breakdown has not been released on the Royal Society of New Zealand website for 2014. For years when gender data are available (2010-13), females are consistently making up 40% of the total applications. Yet, in two years (2010 and 2011), just two of the ten positions were awarded to women. For the 2010-13 period, 11 of the available 40 positions (27.5%) were filled by women, well below the 40% application rate of wormen. The low numbers of women fellows caused lower success rates for women in all years except 2012. In 2010, the success rates for men and women were 11.3% and 4.5% respectively with an overall success rate of 8.7%. The 2011 numbers were similarly low for women. While the fact that 50% of fellowships were awarded to women this year, women still only hold 16 (or 32%) of the 50 fellowships awarded over the five years of the scheme, still somewhat below the application rate of women. Let’s hope the upward trend for women continues.