Study Finds That Women Often Do Not Receive the Credit They Deserve for Academic Scholarship

A new study by scholars at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa, the University of Texas, the University of Montreal, and the Georgia Institute of Technology found that women — as compared to their male counterparts — receive less credit for the work they put into academic publications, more frequently experience disagreements over authorship, and often end up losing out on opportunities for future collaboration as a result.

The findings are drawn from an analysis of 5,575 survey responses from researchers in the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, social sciences, and professional fields. According to the study, women were significantly more likely than men to report disagreements about who was named on a paper and in the order of authorship. The researchers found this to be particularly true in natural sciences and engineering, where women researchers reported significantly higher rates of disagreement than their colleagues in other disciplines.

The disputes that arise from authorship disagreements often result in retribution, the study states. Men were more likely to say they had “engaged in undermining the work of colleagues” following such a dispute. At the same time, women researchers reported that authorship disputes often resulted in fewer opportunities for future collaboration on research projects.

Cassidy Sugimoto, the Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech and co-author of the study, stated that “this study demonstrates that women do not receive the credit they deserve and that their scientific labor is often devalued. Furthermore, it suggests gendered differences in how research teams allocate credit, suggesting that there are cultural dimensions to the distribution of authorship that should be addressed.”

“Senior colleagues should discuss authorship openly in their teams at the initiation and throughout the scientific process,” Dr. Sugimoto recommends. “They should signal that they are willing to listen to concerns about equitable attribution of credit and make changes accordingly.”

Professor Sugimoto became chair of the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology earlier this year. Earlier, she was a professor of informatics and director of graduate studies in the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington.

Dr. Sugimoto holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance, a master’s degree in information science, and a Ph.D. in information science, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The full study, “The Gendered Nature of Authorship,” was published in the journal ScienceAdvances. It may be accessed here.


Filed Under: Research/Study


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