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The World’s Top Female Scientists 

by Vijay Garg
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A total of 1,000 researchers around the world appear in the first edition of what is intended to be an annual celebration of the work of female scholars and inspiration for the next generation.
U.S.-based scientists dominate, taking eight of the top 10 places and 623 of the 1,000 places in the Best Female Scientists in the World ranking, well-ahead of the next most represented nation, the U.K. with 96.
Harvard University is the most-represented institution, with 40 scientists appearing in the rankings, with Oxford University the only non-U.S. institution in the top 10.
The rankings were compiled using the h-index, which measures the impact of a researcher’s publications by combining the number of papers they have published and how often they are cited by other papers.
Analysts considered data on almost 167,000 scientists, with inclusion in the rankings also determined by the proportion of contributions to a particular field as well as awards and achievements.
Leading the rankings is JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard Medical School, known for her work in internal medicine, epidemiology and women’s health.
Professor Manson has also received the American Heart Association’s Distinguished Scientist award and the Women in Science Award from the American Medical Women’s Association, among other accolades.
Ranked second is Virginia M.-Y. Lee, a pathologist at the University of Pennsylvania whose work into disease proteins has produced insights into Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, as well as other degenerative diseases.
Geneticist Unnur Thorsteinsdottir, of deCODE Genetics in Iceland is the highest-ranked non-U.S.-based scientist, with Cambridge University’s Kay-Tee Haw the highest-ranked U.K.-based researcher at number 13.
The top 10 female scientists according to Research.com are:
JoAnn E. Manson (Harvard Medical School)
Virginia M.-Y. Lee (University of Pennsylvania)
Aviv Regev (Broad Institute)
Tamara B. Harris (National Institutes of Health)
Unnur Thorsteinsdottir (deCODE Genetics Iceland)
Brenda W.J.H. Penninx (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Terrie E. Moffitt (Duke University)
Gail Hanson (University of California Riverside)
Julie E. Buring (Brigham and Women’s Hospital)
Nora D. Volkow (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Source: Best Female Scientists in the World, 2022 (Research.com)
Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the University of New South Wales in Australia was the leading Oceania-based scientist, at 89th in the world ranking, three ahead of Asia’s highest representative, Professor Bin Liu from the National University of Singapore.
The top female scientist in Africa is Professor R. Cherkaoui El Moursli from Mohammed V University in Morocco, 99th overall, with Professor Maria-Teresa Dova from the National University of La Plata in Argentina the top scientist in South America, ranked 171st overall.
Geographical classifications were based on a scientist’s affiliated institution, rather than their nationality.
There are some who object to focusing solely on female scientists, fearing that it risks creating a “second-best” category.
Indeed, Prof Manson is one of the leading scientists in the world in any category, ranked eighth on the h-index.
But female researchers still face obstacles to getting their work recognized that simply aren’t there for their male counterparts.
Earlier this year, a study published in Nature found that women who worked on a research project were less likely to be named as authors of journal articles and on patents than male colleagues who worked on the same projects.
The likelihood of women’s roles being acknowledged was higher on research considered as “high-impact”: the more important the work, the less likely it was that women would get recognition.
And if these rankings help give female scientists the credit they deserve then that can send a very positive message about the role of women in science.
“The aim of this ranking is to inspire female scholars, women considering an academic career, as well as decision-makers worldwide with the example of successful women in the scientific community,” said Imed Bouchrika, chief data scientist and head of content at Research.com.
“We hope that it will contribute to providing more opportunities, visibility, and equal chances for women in science.”
Around a third of researchers around the world are women, according to UNESCO data, but the proportion of women starting their publishing careers or receiving doctorates in the life sciences is increasing, alongside an increase in the proportion of women in the STEM workforce.
And while there is still work to do, the rankings celebrate the progress that has been made so far in helping women compete on the same terms as men.
“We are painfully aware that academic research is still a predominantly male profession, and we believe that female scientists deserve an equal chance to be represented and praised for their achievements,” Dr Bouchrika said.
“This ranking for top female scientists in the world finally acknowledges the hard work of all the female scientists that chose to find opportunities amidst the barriers. Their passion to persevere is an inspiration to all the girls and women in science.”

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