The role of gender in scholarly authorship

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 22;8(7):e66212. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066212. Print 2013.


Gender disparities appear to be decreasing in academia according to a number of metrics, such as grant funding, hiring, acceptance at scholarly journals, and productivity, and it might be tempting to think that gender inequity will soon be a problem of the past. However, a large-scale analysis based on over eight million papers across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities reveals a number of understated and persistent ways in which gender inequities remain. For instance, even where raw publication counts seem to be equal between genders, close inspection reveals that, in certain fields, men predominate in the prestigious first and last author positions. Moreover, women are significantly underrepresented as authors of single-authored papers. Academics should be aware of the subtle ways that gender disparities can occur in scholarly authorship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Humans
  • Publications / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors

Grants and funding

This work was supported in part by NSF grant SBE-0915005 to CTB, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship grant DGE-1147470 to MMK, and a generous gift from JSTOR. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.