Closing Academic Publishing's Gender Gap

April 20, 2018

Academic publishing’s gender gap is likely to continue for generations, especially in certain fields, according to a new analysis of 10 million science, technology, engineering and math-related papers published in nearly 6,000 journals worldwide over the last 15 years. Researchers from the University of Melbourne estimated the genders of the papers’ 36 million authors, finding that the gender-based publishing gap was especially persistent in surgery, computer science, physics and math. Eighty-seven of the of the 115 disciplines examined had significantly less than 45 percent female authors, while five had significantly more than 55 percent female authors (the rest were close to gender parity).

The gap is especially large in authorship positions associated with seniority, and prestigious journals have fewer women authors than others, according to the study, published Thursday in PLOS Biology. “The Gender Gap in Science: How Long Until Women Are Equally Represented?” also estimates that journals invite men to submit papers twice as often as they ask women. Wealthy countries, namely Japan, Germany and Switzerland, also tend to have fewer women authors than poorer ones, it says. The paper’s authors recommend education efforts and other reforms to help close the gender gap faster.

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