From 1994 the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) have added new academicians once every two years. Usually no more than 60 new members are admitted to each of the two academies each time. In 2011, the CAS acquired 51 new members, and the CAE 54.
Over the years, the demographics of both academies have been changing. During the past decade, the average age of academicians has dropped significantly. In 2001, new academicians were typically aged over 60, whereas last year more than 70 percent of newly elected academicians were under 60 years old. Statistics released by the CAS show nearly 90 percent of its new Chinese members have studied abroad.
Women, however, remain firmly in the minority in both institutions. Last year, Zhang Lina, a professor at the Natural Polymer and Polymer Physics Laboratory of Wuhan University in Hubei Province, was the only woman conferred the academician title. She became an academician of the CAS.
In the past four years, no female member has been selected to the CAE. Xu Rigan, Vice President of the CAE, said that few women major in science and engineering in university, and even fewer chose to pursue careers in these fields after graduation.
Both the CAS and the CAE have foreign academicians. The CAS has 64, and the CAE has 42.
Academicians have made outstanding contributions to scientific and technological innovation in China. Among all the 18 winners of China's State Supreme Scientific and Technological Award, which has been given out annually to the most accomplished scientists since 2000, 16 are CAS and/or CAE academicians.