That’s how long it will take before the number of women on scientific papers is equal to the number of men.
Luke Holman from the University of Melbourne got that estimate by working out the number of female and male authors on almost 10 million academic papers, published over the last 15 years. With help from Melbourne colleagues Cindy Hauser and Devi Stuart-Fox, he then used the data to estimate the size of the well-documented gender gap in science, and more importantly, how long it might take to close.
At the current rate of change, women will catch up to men in 16 years—but that overall estimate masks a huge amount of variation. For example, out of the 115 disciplines represented in the data, women authors outnumber men in just a handful (including nursing and midwifery) and publish at the same rate in just 23 (including psychology, nutrition, and public health).
In 87 of the 115 disciplines, women are still significantly outnumbered by men. Some of these, including anthropology, microbiology, and medical genetics, will reach parity within the next decade. But others, like physics, mathematics, and computer science, not only have the highest male biases, with women being outnumbered by a factor of six, but also the slowest rates of improvement. In physics, the gender gap might take 258 years to fully close. If nothing changes, no living physicist or mathematician will see parity within their lifetime—or their grandchildren’s.