Gender differences in research performance and its impact on careers: a longitudinal case study

Scientometrics. 2016;106:143-162. doi: 10.1007/s11192-015-1775-3. Epub 2015 Nov 12.


We take up the issue of performance differences between male and female researchers, and investigate the change of performance differences during the early career. In a previous paper it was shown that among starting researchers gendered performance differences seem small to non-existent (Van Arensbergen et al. 2012). If the differences do not occur in the early career anymore, they may emerge in a later period, or may remain absent. In this paper we use the same sample of male and female researchers, but now compare performance levels about 10 years later. We use various performance indicators: full/fractional counted productivity, citation impact, and relative citation impact in terms of the share of papers in the top 10 % highly cited papers. After the 10 years period, productivity of male researchers has grown faster than of female researcher, but the field normalized (relative) citation impact indicators of male and female researchers remain about equal. Furthermore, performance data do explain to a certain extent why male careers in our sample develop much faster than female researchers' careers; but controlling for performance differences, we find that gender is an important determinant too. Consequently, the process of hiring academic staff still remains biased.

Keywords: Academic careers; Gender bias; Longitudinal study; Performance differences.