WOMEN IN PHYSICS IN UKRAINE A.P.Moina1, O.V.Patsahan1, O.V.Vertsanova2

1Institute for Condensed Matter Physics of the National Academy

of Sciences of Ukraine, 1 Svientsitskii Str., 79011 Lviv, Ukraine

2National Technical University of Ukraine "Kiev Polytechnic Institute",

37 Peremogy ave., 03056, Kiev, Ukraine

The role of women in the society at large and in science in particular has considerably grown in the last decades. The situation in Ukraine, along with the factors typical of most countries, namely, raising women’s level of education, their financial independence from men, etc., has some additional factors which are not observed in highly developed countries. On the one hand, Ukraine, like other European states, has a deeply rooted historical tradition of equal rights and opportunities for men and women in choosing their professions. In Ukraine women have always been an active part of the society. The number of men and women with higher education is approximately the same here. On the other hand, Ukraine is undergoing a complex process of building a democratic state, which causes great changes in its economy and affects its economic situation. These factors have a strong impact on the development of Ukrainian science on the whole and Physics, in particular.

Women in science and economic situation in Ukraine

In fact, at the beginning of the 90ies Ukraine possessed a powerful scientific potential in Physics. According to the data of the Ukrainian State Committee for Statistics, in 1991 women averaged 45 % of the total number of experts occupied in research and development activity, 25 % of doctors of sciences, 45% of PhDs. The mass influx of women in science was connected with effective development of science and high social status of the scientists.

For the last decade the situation has changed to the worse. The economic crisis has rendered the negative effect on the Ukrainian science. Decrease in the gross domestic product was accompanied by decrease in the financing of science. So in 1996 costs of science were reduced in 5 times in comparison with 1991. Under the circumstances neither normal research and development process nor the retention of already created scientific and technical potential were possible. The deficient financing of science forced many Ukrainian scientists to go abroad or into business. As a result, in 1996 the total number of scientists was reduced twice in comparison with 1991, and women-scientists — by 42 % [1].

The rates of curtailment of the men occupied in science were almost twice bigger than the rates of curtailment of the women. Due to this in 1996 the percent of women occupied in the scientific and technical activity had risen and constituted 43 % (13,7 % of all doctor of sciences and 30,8 % of all PhDs). The number of women occupied in Ukrainian science began to increase not because of their real number was magnified, but because the number of men who tend to be engaged in research projects was reduced. The fall of the social status of this line of business promoted transition of men-scientists to more prestigious spheres. This, however, is not true for physics institutes of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. There was no major difference in curtailment rates of men and women during last seven years here. Percent of women there slightly varied near 30%.

The definite changes took place in 1998: the percent of women earned degrees of Doctors of Sciences averaged 24,4 % (9,8 % increase in comparison with 1996). In particular, percent of doctoral thesises defended by women in Physics and Mathematics constituted 13,6 %. In engineering science some activity’s growth of women, however minor (7 %), was also noticed. In 1999 the percent of the doctoral thesises defended by women constituted 18% of total, including: in Physics and Mathematics - 10 %, in the engineering science - 8 % [1].

Also in Ukraine geographical gender disproportions are observed. So the greatest quantity of a female scientific potential is concentrated in Kiev: more than 29 % of women-scientists and 24 % of women-scientists of higher qualification. The second place is Kharkov region (accordingly 16 % and 13 %). There are only a few women among doctors of sciences and small amount of women among PhDs in the Volynsk, Kirovograd, Sumy, Zhitomir, Nikolaev and Vinnitsa regions [2].

“Male” sciences and “female” sciences

There is, of course, a division into "female" and "male" sciences. While pharmaceutics (72 %, data for 1997), psychology (70%), philology (65%), architecture (62%), economics, pedagogics and medicine are regarded as "female" sciences (half and more of scientists are female), physics and mathematics (23%), along with philosophy (28%), and political sciences (25%) are more "male" branches (less than 30% of the involved are women).

There is also a disproportion in women representaion in natural sciences. The quota of women occupied in Physics is significantly lower than in Chemistry or Biology. This is well illustrated by the presented below diagrams – the number of PhD degrees earned by Ukrainian women in these fields in last years.

“Male” physics and “female” physics

Physics in Ukraine is considered to be on the edge of “male” and “female” professions. While the pure science is regarded to be more suitable for men, a profession of a physics teacher is here gender neutral. This attitude of the society and its influence on the women’s choice is very well illustrated by the percentage of women – students of the Physics Department of the Lviv State University. In radiophysics and optics, considered as mostly “male” specialties, the number of female students was always smaller then in less “male” general physics (students, graduating here were supposed to be researchers in Academy institutes and universities). At the same time, in recent years more than half of the students in the Department who graduated as high school teachers of physics were women.

There was no division between general physics and physics teachers before 1993. All women who desired to do any physics science, therefore, chose radiophysics.

Women at the academic ladder

The number of women-physicists decreases essentially with each step up the academic ladder. In physics institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, there are nearly 30% of women at the lowest positions of a junior research fellow and research fellow (PhD degree is required to occupy the position), less than 25% at a senior research fellow position (PhD, considerable experience, certain number of papers. etc), nearly 15% at a leading research fellow position (doctoral degree), and none at a chief research fellow position.

Overall, the situation with women representation in the physics institutions in Ukraine seems to reflect the general world tendences [5]: their under-representation in physics in comparison with other sciences, including natural ones, a decrease of the proportion of women as academic rank increases, etc. Economic difficulties in Ukraine equally affect men and women physicists, in contrast to other sciences, where the percent of women

even increases, when the total number of people employed in research institutions decreases.

Acknowledgment. The authors are grateful to Dr. Oles’ Ivankiv for his invaluable help in preparation of this poster. We also thank Dr. Ihor Mryglod, Oleg Velychko, Violeta Patsahan, and Maksym Druchok for providing useful statistical data.


  1. Kovtsun O. The tendency of preparation of scientific staff in Ukraine // Mat. Proc. Conference "Woman in science and education". – Kyiv. – 1999.

  2. Gender analysis of the Ukrainian society // UNDP. – Kyiv. – 1999.

  3. Scientific World, Nos. 1-12 (1999), No. 1-12 (2000), Nos. 1-12 (2001) (Kyiv).

  4. Bulletin of Highest Qualification Committee of Ukraine, Nos. 1-6 (1999), Nos. 1-6 (2000), Nos. 1-6 (2001), Nos. 1 (2002) (Kyiv).

  5. R. Ivie, K. Stowe. Women in physics, 2000. // AIP report, June 2000.