While the proportion of female authors on scholarly papers is lower than their representation in academia as a whole, that proportion is on the rise, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Researchers at the University of Washington sifted through articles archived in JSTOR to determine whether there were gender-based differences in scholarly publishing and whether those differences changed over time.
The researchers, including Jennifer Jacquet, analyzed about 2 million papers published during the course of 345 years and found that 22 percent of all authors were women. They also noted that women were slightly less likely to be the first author on a paper. The Chronicle says, though, that by 2010, the proportion of women as first authors — about 30 percent — reached the same level of female authors in general.
"But those gains have not been mirrored in the last-author position, which is of particular importance in the biological sciences," it adds. In 2010, 23 percent of last authors were female — for cell and molecular biology papers published between 1990 and 2010, women made up 30 percent of the authors, but 16.5 percent of the senior authors.