PARIS - Women are being put off careers in science by stereotypes and are less than half as likely as men to apply for degrees in the field, said a study published Wednesday.
A young woman in Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United States has on average a 35 per cent probability to enrol in a scientific undergraduate degree, compared to a 77 per cent chance for young men, the research found.
"Parity is still far from being reached," said the report by The Boston Consulting Group, blaming the disparity on pervasive "stereotypes" about the sector.
The proportion of women engaged in scientific research has risen by three per centage points since the 1990s to 29 per cent of the workforce, the data showed.
But women are on average only a third as likely as a man to graduate with a science doctorate.
The disparity continues all the way to the top, with women holding only 11 per cent of the highest academic positions in Europe and winning only five of the 132 science Nobel prizes awarded from 1998 to 2013.
"Women under-representation begins at university" and is strengthened in professions where women are given fewer responsibilities and receive lower pay, the report said.
To close the gap, some 300,000 women would have to graduate with science PHDs every year for a decade, said the study, which was carried out on behalf of the L'Oreal Foundation.
No figures were available for countries with wider gender disparities in access to education and the workplace.