A ranking of the top 1000 women in science has been released. Australia hosts 36 of them.

In November this year, Research.com released their inaugural ranking of Best Female Scientists in the World.

The organisation has released their assessment of the top one thousand female researchers in scientific disciplines globally. The purpose of the list 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.”

At a macro level, this ranking list sees the USA very strongly represented compared to all other nations: of the top one thousand women ranked, 623 researchers are from the USA. The next best-represented is the UK, with 96 scientists, followed by Germany with 42. Australia comes in fourth, with 36 female scientists ranked. Given our population, this might seem unlikely—but on the research world stage, Australia does typically punch above our weight. Although we comprise about 0.3% of the global population, we produce around 3% of global research.

A more granular view of the rankings reveals that of the 36 female scientists from Australian institutions, about two thirds are ranked for their contributions in health research. This is consistent with Australia’s research priorities and funding, and more than half of Nobel prizes won by Australians are also in medicine or physiology.

The top female scholar in the world according to this ranking was Professor JoAnn Manson, an internal medical specialist from the Harvard Medical School in the USA.

But what do the top female researchers in Australia look like? The rankings list is certainly impressive.

  • Professor Louisa Degenhardt ranks highest among the Australian entries, at number 84 in the world—the only Australian in the top 100. Her key areas of study include the epidemiology of substance use and related mental health problems.
  • Professor Lidia Morawska, at 435, is a physicist whose work focuses on air quality and health. Her contributions in recognising the work of aerosols in spreading the SARS-CoV-2 was instrumental in our approach to the pandemic. She was also one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021.
  • Professor Susan Scott, at number 493 in the world, is a celebrated physicist who won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2020 for her pioneering work in discovering gravitational waves.
  • Professor Suzanne O’Reily is a geologist whose work relates to mapping out the deepest parts of the earth. She’s the winner of the Clarke medal for her contributions to the field, and she’s now ranked at number 505 in the world.

The organisation reports that these rankings were arrived at by examining factors like H-index, what contributions each scientist had made to her field, and any awards she might have received.

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