Gender differences in scientific careers: A large-scale bibliometric analysis

Authors : Hanjo Boekhout, Inge van der Weijden, Ludo Waltman

We present a large-scale bibliometric analysis of gender differences in scientific careers, covering all scientific disciplines and a large number of countries worldwide. We take a longitudinal perspective in which we trace the publication careers of almost six million male and female researchers in the period 1996-2018.

Our analysis reveals an increasing trend in the percentage of women starting a career as publishing researcher, from 33% in 2000 to about 40% in recent years. Looking at cohorts of male and female researchers that started their publication career in the same year, we find that women seem to be somewhat less likely to continue their career as publishing researcher than men, but the difference is small.

We also observe that men produce on average between 15% and 20% more publications than women. Moreover, in biomedical disciplines, men are about 25% more likely than women to be last author of a publication, suggesting that men tend to have more senior roles than women.

Compared with cross-sectional studies, our longitudinal analysis has the advantage of providing a more in-depth understanding of gender imbalances among authors of scientific publications.