Elsevier report: Gender gap narrows in research and innovation but inequality persists

10 Mar 2020 | Network Updates | Update from Elsevier / RELX
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

While the participation of women in research is increasing overall, inequality remains across geographies and subject areas in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants and collaborations. That is among the findings of Elsevier's latest gender report, which you can download for free, today.

The report, titled The researcher journey through a gender lens, examines research participation, career progression and perceptions across the European Union and 15 countries globally in 26 subject areas.

The report draws on Elsevier’s analytics expertise and data sources — notably Scopus — and was further informed by experts from around the world. The aim is to better understand the role gender plays in the global research enterprise and share powerful data-driven insights with governments, funders and institutions worldwide to inspire evidence-based policy and interventions and inform further studies.

On this page, you can review the report’s key findings, download the report and explore the data behind it. You can also find information on Elsevier’s related initiatives, including our new Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board.

While overall the representation of women in research is increasing, inequality remains. Data show where effort is still needed to ensure equality for women in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants, and collaborations.

Key findings

Research participation

  • In all countries studied and the EU28, the ratio of women to men among all authors was closer to parity during a recent 5-year period compared with a decade ago.
  • Men are more highly represented among authors with a long publication history while women are highly represented among authors with a short publication history.

Research footprint

  • On average, women researchers author fewer publications than men in every country, regardless of authorship position. The least difference in the number of publications by women compared to men is observed among first authors, and the biggest difference is observed among all authors.
  • Among first authors, the average citation impact of men is higher than that of women, suggesting gender bias in citation practice.

Publishing careers and mobility

  • The percentage of women among all authors in the cohort declines over time (between the year of authors’ first publication in 2009 up to 2018) in all countries and regions except Portugal.
  • In every country, the percentage of women who continue to publish is lower than men who continue to publish.

Collaboration networks

  • Across many subject areas and countries, men tend to have more co-authors than women and this difference is wider for authors with a longer publication history.
  • Women and men are more similar in the way they are connected to their potential collaborative space (second-order collaborators) through their direct collaborators.

Researcher perspectives

Researcher attitudes towards gender diversity and equity vary widely among men and women. Most of the differences in viewpoints are related to the importance in individual places on gender balance and to the perception of fairness in the academic system.

  • There are two opposing opinions on the causes of gender imbalance and inequality in academia.
  • Some groups (men and women) attribute gender inequality to the attitudes and ambition levels of women.
  • Other groups attribute gender inequality to a systemic and cultural (unconscious) bias against women.

This article was first published on 4 March 2020 by Elsevier.

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