Historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers across countries and disciplines

by   Junming Huang, et al.

There is extensive, yet fragmented, evidence of gender differences in academia suggesting that women are under-represented in most scientific disciplines, publish fewer articles throughout a career, and their work acquires fewer citations. Here, we offer a comprehensive picture of longitudinal gender discrepancies in performance through a bibliometric analysis of academic careers by reconstructing the complete publication history of over 1.5 million gender-identified authors whose publishing career ended between 1955 and 2010, covering 83 countries and 13 disciplines. We find that, paradoxically, the increase of participation of women in science over the past 60 years was accompanied by an increase of gender differences in both productivity and impact. Most surprisingly though, we uncover two gender invariants, finding that men and women publish at a comparable annual rate and have equivalent career-wise impact for the same size body of work. Finally, we demonstrate that differences in dropout rates and career length explain a large portion of the reported career-wise differences in productivity and impact. This comprehensive picture of gender inequality in academia can help rephrase the conversation around the sustainability of women's careers in academia, with important consequences for institutions and policy makers.


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