Who gets scientific honors? usually not female

In science, the ultimate measure of scholarly merit is the number of papers published as an author. Certain subtleties also matter – where you are on the author list and whether others cite your paper. But these factors hardly detract from the importance of the number of papers. Other factors like donations and promotions are also important. But success in these fields often depends on publishing a large number of papers. That’s why a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature is significant: It cites data showing that women are systematically excluded from author lists of scientific papers . Even after accounting for various factors of career development, there is still a gap between participation and publication. This goes a long way toward explaining why the scientific community has a problem known as the “churn pipeline,” which refers to the higher percentage of women dropping out of research at every stage of their careers.

The researchers used several methods to measure paper success. The first is whether team members are all present in the paper. Based on the raw data, they came to an obvious answer: 21% of men ended up as authors, and only 12% of women. Faculty sign papers far more frequently than anyone else on the team, and women are less likely to hold faculty positions, which largely explains the discrepancy. So the researchers adjusted by position (faculty, graduate student, lab technician, etc.) and found that women’s names were 5% less likely to appear in any paper.

In addition, the researchers used the data they had to analyze how many papers and patents a particular team published over a period of time. For anyone who worked at the lab a year ago, these were considered “possible byline papers.” Then divide the number of papers that person actually published by the number of “possible-authored papers”, using this method to accommodate the fact that some labs or programs are more successful than others. Once again adjusted for position, women published less than men. Finally, the researchers examined the percentage of highly cited papers. For dismal papers, there is no difference. Women and men are evenly matched in zero-citation papers. But for fairly successful papers (those with 25 citations), women were 20 percent less likely to be on the author list than men.

The researchers surveyed academics and received more than 2,500 responses. Forty-three percent of female respondents said they had been excluded from authorship lists for papers they had participated in; compared to 38 percent of males who were excluded. Forty-nine percent of women also said their scientific contributions to the lab were underappreciated, compared with less than 40 percent of men. Women tended to say their work was not acknowledged for personal reasons or because they left the lab before the paper was published.

This article is reprinted from: https://www.solidot.org/story?sid=71926
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