Science is full of inequalities. This is a sad fact that we all know, and despite the efforts being made to reduce it, the gender gap in science is still "strong and persistent". In a paper published in Nature this Wednesday by researchers at Ohio State University, they state that women don't get the same credit in journal articles as men.
Previous studies have explored the gender gap between male researchers and female researchers. "For example, about women's scientific productivity, which is often lower than the men's; or about the order of authors listed in articles. Historically, women are less likely to hold the prestigious positions as first and last authors than men," Bruce Weinberg, coauthor and professor of the study, told this newspaper. Ohio.
Their study is unique because it "allows for the first time to consider people who, even though they participate in research, never appear as a result of that work being published as well as how long they spent on a particular project," explains Enrico Berkes (co-author and postdoctoral researcher in Economics) at the American university. The researchers used data from the UMETRICS database from the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science, a consortium of universities that collects large administrative data on higher education and research.
The study contains information about 128,859 individuals who were part of 9,778 research teams. This includes faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and research staff from 52 universities. It spans a period of four years (2013 to 2016). This data was linked to 7,675 patents, 39,426 articles published by scientific journals that identify authors to determine which individuals who contributed to individual projects were given credit.
"What is unique about our study? The data we have allows you to identify who worked on what projects, and their individual roles in those projects. This helps us determine who should be credited for a scientific publication." or patent in particular," says Weinberg. Results showed that women who were involved in research projects were 13% less likely than their male counterparts to be named as authors of related scientific papers. There was a second gap. He adds that "we found that women were 59% less likely to be named as patents in relation to projects they worked on"
The researchers also conducted a survey among more than 2400 scientists to confirm their suspicions. 43% of women reported that they were excluded from scientific papers to which they had contributed, compared with 38% for men. They also reported that their contributions were often underestimated by others and that they have been subject to discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudice. One woman said, "Women often contribute in some way to science. But unless we shout out or have a strong view, our contributions can often be underestimated." Many respondents indicated that biases similar to those of foreign scientists and minorities can also affect them.
This study also showed that women are less likely to be recognized for scientific contributions at all levels, especially in the beginning stages of their careers. For example, only 15 of 100 graduate students were identified as the authors of a paper compared with 21 of 100 male graduates students. Berkes stated that women are more likely than men to hold support roles, but they receive less credit overall. All fields of study. Researchers found that women are less likely to be acknowledged as authors in areas where there is a greater presence of women, such as the health field. They are virtually invisible in articles scientists call 'high-impact.
Weinberg points out that women scientists are often given less credit for their research. Rosalind Franklin, a chemist who was a key contributor to the discovery and structure of DNA, is one of the most well-known examples. However, her authorship was not acknowledged in the original article. Weinberg and Berkes have further confirmed this fact with their new research. They state that their data is not recent and they believe these phenomena are ongoing today.
How can I improve this situation?
Weinberg: We think it is important to clearly define what it takes to be an author and to receive credit for research. Perhaps a system (such as the CREDIT) could help to formalize contributions.
Berkes: A second way to bridge the gap is to encourage universities and labs to create mechanisms that allow people raise concerns and foster inclusive discussions. These studies are crucial from this perspective, because they raise awareness about the severity and extent of inequalities. It is essential to be aware in order to take steps towards an equitable and inclusive credit system.