Today, when I saw an article in the Economist on the “lamentable lack of female professors,” I thought I somehow navigated to a story from a decade or so ago. But, as I learned from the article, gender differences persist in the university system. A recent study, published in the journal International Organization, found that academic papers authored by women tend to be cited less than papers authored by men.
The research team, led by Barbara Walter, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, discovered that not only do men cite female authors less – a somewhat unsurprising result because more authors are male – but female authors tend to cite themselves less, as well. From the piece:
Barbara Walter, of the University of California, San Diego, however, offers a fourth explanation: that female academics are not pushy enough. Specifically, she says that unlike their male colleagues they do not routinely cite their own previous work when they publish a paper. Since the frequency a paper is cited is an indicator of its importance—and one which, since it can be measured, tends to weigh with appointment committees—a systematic unwillingness by women to self-cite may help tip the balance against them.
Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.
Previously: Science, it’s a … bimbo thing?, Assuming “doctor” means “man”, Hannah Valantine: Leading the way in diversifying medicine, She’s a Barbie girl, living in a Barbie world (that discourages careers in science) and Pioneers in science