Agriculture / Article / Food Security / Gender / Research / Women

‘Leakey pipeline’ for women scientists stands the test of time

The photo collage above illustrates an article published by the World Bank: Women in Agriculture: The Agents of Change for the Global Food System, 7 Mar 2017.

‘Although women are publishing more studies, being cited more often, and securing more coveted first-author positions than they were in the mid 1990s, overall progress towards gender parity in science varies widely by country and field. This is according to a massive report released on 8 March that is the first to examine such a broad swath of disciplines and regions of the world over time . . . .

‘The report by the publisher Elsevier found that despite their moderate advances, women still published fewer articles than men, and were much less likely to be listed as first or last authors on a paper. Citation rates, however, were roughly equal: although female authors were cited slightly less than male authors, work authored by women was downloaded at slightly higher rates.

‘Elsevier used data from Scopus, an abstract and citation database of more than 62 million documents. The report’s authors broke the data down into 27 subject areas, and compared them across 12 countries and regions and two 5-year blocks of time: 1996–2000 and 2011–15. The report included only researchers who were listed as an author on at least one publication within either of the two five-year periods. . . .

‘“I think this report does a tremendous job of demonstrating and reinforcing that the leaky pipeline is still in effect,” says Sugimoto, referring to the decline seen in the proportion of women at succesive stages in research. “We see an increase in the number of women researchers and an increase in the number of women first authors, but those rates are not progressing equally.

We have a pipeline problem, and time is not erasing it.”

‘But patching that pipeline has proved extremely difficult. Women must overcome a number of barriers in science, says Sugimoto, ranging from conscious and unconscious sexism to expectations of women’s roles in child care and care for the elderly. . . .’

Read the whole article by Erin Ross: Patchy progress on fixing global gender disparities in science, Nature, 8 Mar 2017.

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