Maria Coleta OLIVEIRA
Glaucia dos Santos MARCONDES
Joice Melo VIEIRA

The mandate of the Brazilian quantitative research team was to look for indicators that could respond to three of the main questions addressed by the proposed Framework on Gender Equality and the Knowledge Society:

• What are the preconditions for women to become full participants in a national knowledge society?
• What resources and access do they need to achieve this?
• Where, when and how fast are women making progress?

The research team was composed of one senior researcher (a sociologist and demographer), two demographers and one graduate demography student. Research was initiated in July 2011. Work has involved an exhaustive search for indicators already produced and made public by national and international organizations as well as original tabulations from micro databases available or made available especially for this project. It has also included a bibliographical search for papers or articles published or presented in specialized conferences and seminars by individual authors.

Time period covered
The period 2000–2010 was used as the time reference for the indicators selected. However, most data from the Brazilian 2010 Demographic Census were not available at the time of the research. Thus the alternative used was to define data from the Brazilian Household Surveys – Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (PNAD) – as the main data source. This is an annual survey, available yearly for each non-census year that gathers information from a national and regional representative sample, excluding only rural areas of the Northern Region. Available for the decade of the 2000 (2001 to 2009), use of PNAD would avoid comparability issues if 2000 census data were also utilized. In fact, a 1990s decade series of PNAD is also available. However, here have been introduced many significant changes in definitions for certain items, which make data compatibility a complex challenge if used for comparative purposes.
Given the above, we have defined the 2000-2010 period as the time reference and selected information for the closest available date to each of this interval’s limits. The same criteria have been adopted for other data sources used in this report. Nevertheless, some indicators may be available for one single year or for a shorter time interval.


Indicator O.13 brings information on female participation as undergraduate students by broad education area groups, as defined by the UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education. Among the eight area categories, in five women comprised a greater share of students in 2009 than men, in exactly the same categories as at the beginning of the decade. Proportions of female students vary from 54% (Social Sciences, Business and Law) to almost 70% (Education). At the opposite end is the area of Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction, a traditional group of male careers, where women were few. There was no major change in the picture for the period, though some proportions have gone up or down, with minor differences.


Graduate education data give a complementary view to that obtained from undergraduate careers. Indicator O.15, however, reinforces what have already been signaled: women’s professional training at tertiary education level is geared towards some fields and not to all fields available. Among the nine areas in which Ph. D degrees were granted in 2000 and in 2008, four are predominantly female: Biological Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, and Linguistic/Language/Arts. Only in Health Sciences did women outreach men in the time interval covered by the indicator, having experienced a 17% increase in the period. Among the areas in which women showed increasing participation, only in three of them were the rates of increase significant: Agricultural Sciences, with a 25% increase; Multidisciplinary area, with a 48% growth; and Engineering, with a 17% gain. The latter figure is particularly striking, as it stands out in comparison with many other countries of the world.


Indicator 18-A was calculated to show the progression of this equality-growing process along time. It shows the sex ratio – as demographically defined – of Brazilian researchers by leadership condition, from 1995 to 2010. It documents the growing participation of women in the research profession as a whole and, specifically, their ascension to leadership in research. In 2010 there were 122 men for each 100 women research leaders, while in 1995 men almost doubled the number of women (199 men for each 100 women). Indicator O.18-B displays this trend in a graph.


To access this full publication, click here.
For more information about the National Assessments on Gender and STI, please click here.


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