Information for Researchers, No. 35 | April 16, 2024

DFG Publishes Gender Equality Monitoring for the Reporting Year 2023

DFG publishes annual Gender Equality Monitoring with detailed figures on proposal submissions, peer reviews and committee activity on the part of researchers

The Gender Equality Monitoring of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) was relaunched in the reporting year 2021 and supplemented with additional data: in addition to the key figures included previously showing the share of female researchers submitting proposals, the success of their proposals and their participation in reviews and DFG committees, the report was extended from 2021 onwards to contain statistics on first-time applicants, further breakdowns differentiated by age and information on doctoral researchers based on data from the Federal Statistical Office. 

Looking at the share of female researchers across all academic career levels, this can be seen to have increased steadily over the years, albeit very slowly for the most part. The share of women at professorship level is now at 28 percent, for example, while a slight increase in the share of women can also be observed in most ongoing projects under the DFG’s funding programmes. Under individual grants programmes, coordinated programmes and the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments, there has been an overall rise in the share of women over the past four years from 24.0 percent in 2020 to 27.1 percent in 2023. In terms of the involvement of women in the funding of individuals (Walter Benjamin Programme, Emmy Noether Programme, Heisenberg Programme) over the last four years, a certain decline was noticeable in 2021 (and to some extent in 2022 as well). This might potentially be linked to the coronavirus pandemic, though such a link has not been confirmed. The share of women increased again in 2023 and is now roughly on a par with pre-pandemic levels. 

It is also possible to draw the following conclusion based on newly submitted proposals under individual grants programmes for which decisions have been issued: the younger the age cohort, the higher the share of women. The highest share of women in the life sciences is in the age cohort up to 35 years, where the figure is 47 percent. The greatest difference in terms of age is to be found in the engineering sciences: here, 24.7 percent of applicants are female researchers up to the age of 35, while only 6.7 percent are female researchers over the age of 65. 

Another trend that has been continuously tracked for a long time in the DFG’s Gender Equality Monitoring is the funding rate, i.e. the ratio of the number of approved proposals to the number of proposals for which decisions were issued in the given period. Encouragingly, there is hardly any difference in the overall average funding rates for female and male researchers. Looking at the individual scientific disciplines in 2023, the figures indicate that the funding rate for female researchers in the engineering sciences is around 5.1 percent below that of male researchers, while in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, the funding rates for female researchers in 2023 are 1 to 1.6 percent higher than those of their male colleagues. These differences should be viewed with caution, however, since funding rates do fluctuate significantly over time in some cases – not least as a result of low absolute numbers in certain fields.

There have been encouraging developments in the participation of female researchers in areas such as review and evaluation, where the DFG has set itself ambitious objectives. In terms of panel and on-site reviews, for example, the share of women increased steadily to around 28 percent in the period 2020-2023. From the point of view of the individual scientific disciplines, the share of women on review panels is regularly at its highest in the humanities and social sciences, while the lowest levels are to be found in the engineering sciences. 

All in all, therefore, there are some encouraging developments to be seen in the participation of women in research and in DFG funding, although it must be said that progress is slow. In considering this data, it is well worth taking a differentiated view as far as possible, ideally even pursuing an intersectional focus such as a breakdown by subject specialism or age. With its Equity and Diversity Concept, the DFG has set itself the aim of looking more closely at these aspects, re-assessing the opportunities and requirements involved and introducing support schemes with regard to other diversity categories.

Further information

To the “Gender Equality Monitoring 2023” (available in German only):

On the subject of equity and diversity:

The DFG Infobrief “Corona, Gender and Research Funding” (2021):

Link to the report “The DFG’s Funding Activities in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic” (2022):

Contact for statistics

Dr. Julia Rothbauer
Telephone: +49 (228) 885-2434

Subject-specific contact

Dr. Anush Köppert
Telephone: +49 (228) 885-2612