Equilibrium & Sustainability

Women in science less likely to be credited for their work: study

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Women in science are less likely than their male counterparts to receive authorship credit for the work they do, a new study has found.

The study, published in Nature on Wednesday, found that women who worked on a given research project were 13 percent less likely than their male colleagues to appear as authors in related journal articles.

“Women are not getting credit at the same rates as men on journal articles,” co-author Enrico Berkes, a postdoctoral researcher in economics at The Ohio State University, said in a statement. “The gap is persistent, and it is strong.”

When it came to patents, the authors found an even larger gender gap: Women were nearly 59 percent less likely than men to be named on patents related to the projects they worked on.

To draw these conclusions, the authors said they combed through a swath of administrative data from universities that helped reveal precisely who was involved with and paid for various projects.

That information came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s UMETRICS dataset, which contains details about sponsored research projects for 52 higher education institutions from 2013 through 2016. These projects involved almost 129,000 people on nearly 10,000 research teams, according to the study.

After sorting through this information, the researchers said they linked that data to patents and articles published in scientific journals to determine which individuals received credit in the patents and journals and who did not.

“What is unique is that we have the data to know exactly who worked on individual research projects and what their role was,” co-author Bruce Weinberg, a professor of economics at Ohio State, said in a statement.

“This rich data helps us know whether people should or should not be credited for any particular scientific publication or patent,” he added.

Although researchers were already aware that women are less likely than men to have senior positions on research teams, the authors of Wednesday’s study found that at every position level women were less likely than men to get credit.

This gap was particularly apparent in earlier stages of their careers, according to the study. For example, the authors explained, 15 out of 100 female graduate students were named as an author on a document, compared to 21 out of 100 male graduate students.

And when it came to what scientists consider “high-impact” articles — those that amass the most citations in other papers — the inclusion of women among the authors was even less probable, according to the study.

“There should never be a gap in credit between men and women. But you really don’t want a gap on the research that has the biggest impact on a scientific field,” Weinberg said. “That’s a huge source of concern.”

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