A gender equality paradox in academic publishing: Countries with a higher proportion of female first-authored journal articles have larger first author gender disparities between fields
AbstractCurrent attempts to address the shortfall of female researchers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have not yet succeeded despite other academic subjects having female majorities. This article investigates the extent to which gender disparities are subject-wide or nation-specific by a first author gender comparison of 30 million articles from all 27 Scopus broad fields within the 31 countries with the most Scopus-indexed articles 2014-18. The results show overall and geocultural patterns as well as individual national differences. Almost half of the subjects were always more male (7; e.g., Mathematics) or always more female (6; e.g., Immunology & Microbiology) than the national average. A strong overall trend (Spearman correlation 0.546) is for countries with a higher proportion of female first-authored research to also have larger differences in gender disparities between fields (correlation 0.314 for gender ratios). This confirms the international gender equality paradox previously found for degree subject choices: increased gender equality overall associates with moderately greater gender differentiation between subjects. This is consistent with previous USA-based claims that gender differences in academic careers are partly due to (socially constrained) gender differences in personal preferences. Radical solutions may therefore be needed for some STEM subjects to overcome gender disparities.
CitationThelwall, M. and Mas-Bleda, A. (2020) A gender equality paradox in academic publishing: Countries with a higher proportion of female first-authored journal articles have larger first author gender disparities between fields, Quantitative Science Studies, 1 (3): pp. 1260–1282 DOI: 10.1162/qss_a_00050
JournalQuantitative Science Studies
Description© 2020 The Authors. Published by MIT Press. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00050
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/