VA Barometer 2018 – Swedish women’s confidence in researchers falls sharply

Press release 5 March 2018

Almost half of young men in Sweden would consider a career as a researcher. Among young Swedish women, only a fifth can see themselves as researchers in the future. At the same time, Swedish women’s confidence in researchers has fallen sharply, while men’s confidence remains at the same level as last year. These are some of the findings from this year’s annual VA Barometer conducted by Swedish civil society organisation VA (Public & Science). The VA Barometer is now available in English.

Public confidence in researchers at universities remains high although the percentage of Swedes with fairly or very high confidence has fallen slightly from 89 to 83 percent. A more detailed analysis reveals a clear gender difference: Men’s confidence in researchers remains at the same level as last year, while women’s confidence has decreased by 15 percentage points, from 91 to 76 percent. This is the biggest variation observed between men and women since the survey began in 2002.

”This finding is both interesting and worrying, and we do not yet know if it is a temporary drop or the start of a trend,” said Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at VA, who is responsible for the study.

On the question of whether Swedes view research as a career choice, the difference between men and women is striking. Among Swedish men, 44 percent of 16–29 year-olds could consider becoming researchers in the future. The corresponding figure for women is 22 percent.

In light of the forthcoming Swedish general election in autumn 2018, the survey also investigated which political party Swedes think best represents research issues. Six out of ten Swedes do not know and one in ten says no party. Among the third of respondents who name a party, the Green Party is ranked the highest.

”This may be due to the connection between environmental issues and science. However, the majority of the respondents that select the Green Party say that they would vote for another party if elections were to be held today,” said Maria Lindholm.

More than four out of ten Swedes feel that research is not taken into account enough prior to making political decisions in Sweden. One third think that it is taken into account to a reasonable extent, and three percent believe that politicians take research too much into account.

Notes about the VA Barometer

The English version of the 2017/2018 VA Barometer along with the questions asked in the interviews is available here.

The VA Barometer has been carried out annually since 2002. The results of the VA Barometer are based on around 1,000 telephone interviews with a representative sample of the Swedish population aged 16–74 years. The interviews were carried out by market research company Exquiro.

For further information, contact Maria Lindholm, Director of Research at VA, who is responsible for the survey.

Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA, (Public and Science) is a non-profit Swedish organisation whose purpose is to promote dialogue and openness between researchers and society. VA carries out surveys and studies, organises meetings and activities, and creates new formats for dialogue. Its members consist of some 80 organisations, such as authorities, universities, businesses, adult education associations and research funding bodies. In addition, it has a number of individual members. For more information visit www.v-a.se/in-english/


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