Female scientists receive less authorship, according to one analysis

Female scientists receive less authorship, according to one analysis

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Data show that female scientists are less likely to receive authorship credits or be named in patents related to their work than their male counterparts, including in fields such as healthcare where women are dominant.

This gender gap could help explain well-documented differences in the apparent contributions of male and female scientists — such as that of Rosalind Franklin, whose crucial contribution to the discovery of DNA structure was initially not recognized because she was not cited in substance Natural articles by James Watson and Francis Crick.

“We have known for a long time that women publish and patent less than men. But since previous data never showed who took part in the research, no one knew why,” said Prof Julia Lane of New York University in the US, who led the new research.

Lane and her colleagues analyzed administrative data on research projects conducted at 52 US colleges and universities between 2013 and 2016. They compared information on 128,859 scientists with 39,426 journal articles and 7,675 patents and examined which people who worked on individual projects received credit and which did not.

The study, also published in Nature, suggests that Rosalind Franklin was far from the only one who didn’t get due credit for her work. It found that, on average, across all job titles and fields, men were about twice as likely as women to be named by their research team in a scientific article or patent.

This divide was evident in both female-dominated fields, such as healthcare, and male-dominated fields, such as engineering, and was particularly evident in the earliest stages of women’s careers. For example, only 15 out of 100 female postgraduates have ever been named as the author of a publication, compared to 21 out of 100 their male colleagues.

“There is a clear discrepancy between the rate at which women and men are cited as co-authors of publications,” Lane said. “The divide is strong, persistent and independent of the research area. I fear it will discourage young women from pursuing a career in science.”

The team also surveyed more than 2,400 published scientists, asking if they had ever been disqualified from a paper they contributed to and why they thought this was done. 43% of women reported being banned from a publication compared to 38% of men. The most common explanation was that others had underestimated their contribution, but women were twice as likely to cite discrimination or bias as an explanation, while men were more likely to say their contributions did not warrant authorship.

dr Tina Joshi, Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Plymouth, said: “This is a welcome study that highlights the gender inequality that many women in science continue to face. We can continue to address this disparity as an academic community by fostering dialogue on equality, diversity and inclusion, and by working together to recognize all researchers for their contributions.”

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