Are there gender differences between the research productivity scholarships of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)?

Suzane Carvalho da Vitória Barros, Ph.D. in Physiology, Universidade Salgado de Oliveira (Universo), Niterói, RJ, Brasil.

Luciana Mourão, Ph.D. in Physiology, Universidade Salgado de Oliveira (Universo), Niterói, RJ, Brasil.

Image: Licenciado por Pixabay

Are there gender differences between the research productivity of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, National Council for Scientific and Technological Research and Development)? The article “Gender and science: an analysis of Brazilian postgraduation” published by two researchers from Salgado de Oliveira University, in the Journal Estudos de Psicologia (vol. 37, Campinas) seeks to answer these questions. The study compares scientific production by gender and the distribution of women and men in different areas of science and levels of productivity scholarships program. The research corresponding to the period 2013-2016 and involved all permanent professors of graduate programs in Brazil, who are Brazilian and who have graduated in the last 30 years. Thus, 50,533 resumes were analyzed, of which 57% are men. The analysis included the Colleges and Major Areas of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), as well as the segmentation by CNPq Research Productivity Scholarship.

The results did not show significant differences in the scientific productions of women and men when considering the divisions by Colleges and Large Areas. However, in the division of groups between those who are or are not covered by the productivity scholarship, the differences became evident, with men reaching 63% of the PQ scholarship holders. In addition, the gender gap widens as the scholarship level rises, with only 23% of women at the highest career level (PQ 1A scholarship). The results also showed a male predominance in the Life Sciences Colleges (59%) and Exact, Technological and Multidisciplinary Sciences (75%), as well as a predominance at all levels of PQ scholarship in these Colleges. At Humanidades College, the distribution of women and men was more balanced, with a slight female predominance (51%) in the total of researchers, but the female under-representation in the distribution by scholarship levels remained, although more discreet.

The researchers conclude that gender stereotypes may explain, in part, the way women and men are distributed in different areas, especially in two aspects. The first in relation to less female identification with careers in which the belief that good performance is associated with innate talents, often attributed to men, prevails (LESLIE et al., 2015). The second in relation to the lack of female models in these areas to promote women’s self-confidence and interest.

Regarding the differences in the distribution of female and male teachers at different levels of the CNPq Productivity Scholarship, the authors point out that the results may be associated with the fact that there are a greater number of Brazilian male teachers. However, they signal that, even considering this difference, the disproportion between women and men points to other causes, such as the late entry of women in the academic world, since it takes, on average, three decades to reach the top of the productivity scholarship career (PRADO; FLEITH, 2012). Finally, the researchers consider that elements of personal and family life (such as marriage and the presence of children or elderly family members) can influence women’s careers in science, since the period between 25 and 35 years old is crucial, both for the decision on motherhood, as for the consolidation and establishment of a good reputation in the area in which it operates (WARRIOR, 1997).

Next, watch the video by Suzane Carvalho da Vitória Barros to learn more about this study.


LESLIE, S.-J., et al. Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines. Science [online]. 2015, vol. 387, no. 6219, pp. 262-265, ISSN: 1095-9203. [viewed 8 April 2020]. DOI: DOI: 10.1126/science.1261375. Avaliable from:

PRADO, R. M.; FLEITH, D. S. Pesquisadoras brasileiras: conciliando talento, ciência e família. Arq. bras. psicol. [online]. 2012, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 19-34, ISSN: 1809-5267[viewed 8 April 2020]. Avaliable from:

WARRIOR, J. Cracking it: helping women to succeed in science, engeneering and technology. Waltford: Training Publications, 1997.

To read the article, access

BARROS, S. C. da V. and MOURAO, L. Gender and science: An analysis of brazilian postgraduation. Estud. psicol. (Campinas) [online]. 2020, vol. 37, e180108, ISSN 0103-166X [viewed 28 April 2020]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-0275202037e180108. Available from:

External links

Estudos de Psicologia (Campinas) – ESTPSI:

About the authors

Suzane Carvalho da Vitória Barros, psychologist, Science and Technology analyst at the National Cancer Institute (INCA), doctoral degree in Social Psychology from the Salgado de Oliveira University (2018). Mainly investigates the theme of Professional Development with special attention to issues related to social roles and gender stereotypes.


Luciana Mourão, communicologist and manager, professor, PhD in Psychology from the University of Brasília (2004), post-doctorate fellow from the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL, 2013), CNPq productivity scholarship and FAPERJ Scientist of Our State. He works mainly in the area of professional development and evaluation of social programs.


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

BARROS, S. C. da V. and MOURÃO, L. Are there gender differences between the research productivity scholarships of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)? [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2020 [viewed ]. Available from:


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