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Study Quantifies Male Dominance in Scientific Production

Women account for <;30 percent of fractionalized authorships; similar pattern in first authorships

FRIDAY, Dec. 13, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Men dominate scientific production worldwide, accounting for a higher percentage of authorships and greater impact, according to research published in the Dec. 12 issue of Nature.

Noting that gender inequality is still rife in science, Vincent Larivière, Ph.D., from the University of Montreal, and colleagues presented a global and cross-disciplinary bibliometric analysis of gender and research output; the extent of collaboration; and the scientific impact of published articles. Data were analyzed for 5,483,841 research papers and review articles, with 27,329,915 authorships.

The researchers found that, in nearly every country, men dominated scientific production, with the extent varying by region. Globally, women accounted for <30 percent of fractionalized authorships on papers and were similarly underrepresented in first authorships (1.93 articles first-authored by men for every article with a female first author). In countries with lower scientific output, female authorship was more prevalent. Women-dominated specialties included midwifery; nursing; speech, language, and hearing; education; and social work; while men dominated disciplines such as military sciences, engineering robotics, high-energy physics, mathematics, and economics. Female collaborations were found to be more domestically oriented than those of males from the same country. Papers for which a woman had sole-, first-, or last-authorship attracted fewer citations than those for which a man was in one of these roles.

"Any realistic policy to enhance women's participation in the scientific workforce must take into account the variety of social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which students learn science and scientific work is performed," the authors write.

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