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Gender differences in performance of top cited scientists by field and country

Ho Fai Chan () and Benno Torgler ()
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Benno Torgler: Queensland University of Technology

Scientometrics, 2020, vol. 125, issue 3, No 24, 2447 pages

Abstract: Abstract In this descriptive study, we aim to show the potential gender differences in academic success, focusing on the top (i.e., most frequently cited) scientists by analyzing the work of more than 94,000 scientists in 21 fields across 43 countries. Our results indicate that female representation in the top tier of scientists strongly varies between countries (11.83%; s.d. = 0.046), with the highest proportion of top women scientists in Finland (20.45%) and the lowest in Saudi Arabia (2.08%). Compared with the total share of females in science, women are underrepresented among the top (i.e., most frequently cited) scholars by 28.52 percentage points. The proportions differ by disciplines, with top women authors best represented in Public Health and Services (36.1%), Communication and Textual Studies (33.7%), Psychology and Cognitive Science (27.5%), and Social Sciences (23%); while the lowest share of women scientists are found in Mathematics and Statistics (6.3%), Engineering (7.2%), and Physics and Astronomy (7.7%). However, despite the low female representation, top women scholars in those three fields conduct (on average) more impactful research than their male colleagues, which is contrary to most other research fields. We also show that female scientific success is positively correlated with a nation’s higher gender equity indicators, lower discriminatory values, and less negative attitudes and preferences towards women. Overall, our findings suggest that scientific fields are still struggling with gender inequality that pervades public life.

Keywords: Gender; Gender representation; Gender equality; Science; Top scientists (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s11192-020-03733-w

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