Scholarly Publishing’s Gender Gap
The largest analysis ever done of academic articles by gender, reaching across hundreds of years and hundreds of fields, has yielded some interesting, and instructive, results. Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West at the University of Washington, analyzed nearly eight million scholarly articles collected by JSTOR, a digital archiving service. They went all the way back to Isaac Newton’s time.
They found that although the percentage of female authors is still less than women’s overall representation within the full-time faculty ranks, the proportion has increased as more women have entered the professoriate. They also show that women cluster into certain subfields and are somewhat underrepresented in the prestigious position of first author. In the biological sciences, women are even more underrepresented as last author. The last name on a scientific article is typically that of the senior scholar, who is not necessarily responsible for doing most of the research or writing but who directs the lab where the experiment was based.