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Female academics have a higher teaching and public engagement load than male academics, which may affect the time they can spend on research, Nature News reports.

The Equality Challenge Unit charity surveyed 2,495 male and 2,374 female academics working in the sciences at 43 institutions in the UK to find that women typically spend more time on such tasks than men, even after controlling for age, seniority, and type of contract.

This, Nature News says, could place women at a disadvantage as scientific merit is often gauged through research productivity. Additionally, in follow-up interviews, survey respondents noted that those activities also carry less prestige.

The survey further found that while about half of men said it wasn't easier for either men or women to obtain a senior role, only about a quarter of women said that, according to Nature News. Women also reported that men had an easier time obtaining mentoring and conference invitations.

The survey report recommends that institutions look into whether there is a gender difference in how they apportion workload and responsibilities, Nature News adds.