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Is science built on the shoulders of women? : a study of gender differences in contributorship
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofAcademic medicine ; Academic medicine ; vol. 91. vol. 91. no. 8. no. 8.p. 1136.p. 1136.1142. 1142.
Publisher(s)Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Purpose: Women remain underrepresented in the production of scientific literature and relatively little is known regarding the labor roles played by women in the production of knowledge. This research examines these labor roles, using contributorship data from science and medical journals published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS). PLOS journals require each author to indicate their contribution to one or more of the following tasks: (1) Analyzed the data; (2) Conceived and designed the experiments; (3) Contributes reagents/materials/analysis tools; (4) Performed the experiments; and (5) Wrote the paper. Method: We analyzed contribution data from more than 85,000 articles published between 2008 and 2013 in PLOS journals with respect to gender using both descriptive and regression analyses. Results: Gender is a significant variable in determining the likelihood of performing a certain task associated with authorship. Women are significantly more likely to be associated with performing experiments and men are more likely to be associated with all other authorship roles. This holds true controlling for age: although experimentation is associated with academically younger scholars, the gap between male and female contribution to this task remains constant across academic age. Inequalities are observed in the distribution of scientific labor roles. Conclusions: These disparities have implications for the production of science, the evaluation of scholars, and the ethical conduct of science. Adopting the practice of identifying contributorship rather than authorship in scientific journal will allow for greater transparency, accountability, and equitable allocation of resources in science.