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Out of Balance

Men publish more research papers than women in nearly every country, a bibliometric analysis in Nature reports. The researchers, led by Cassidy Sugimoto at Indiana University Bloomington, sifted through 5,483,841 research papers and review articles totaling some 27,330,000 authorships.

From their analyses, they found that women accounted for some 30 percent of authorships while men made up about 70 percent of authorships worldwide — for every article with a female first author, there are nearly two with a male first author.

South American and Eastern European countries neared gender parity, and a handful of other countries had higher rates of female authorship than male authorship, but those countries had a low overall scientific output.

Additionally, they found that papers with prominent female authorships were less likely to be cited, even if they were part of a large national or international collaboration.

Age, Sugimoto and her colleagues note, likely plays a role, as there are fewer women in senior research and faculty positions. "Thus it is likely that many of the trends we observed can be explained by the under-representation of women among the elders of science," they write. "After all, seniority, authorship position, collaboration and citation are all highly interlinked variables."