Elsevier's reports on gender in research

Elsevier’s latest global analysis reveals progress toward gender parity, but women still trail men in number of publications and citations

March 4, 2020 - Updated November 4, 2020
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Gender report 2020: The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens

While the participation of women in research is increasing overall, inequality remains across geographies and subject areas in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants and collaborations. That is among the findings of Elsevier's latest gender report, which you can download for free.

The report, titled The researcher journey through a gender lens, examines research participation, career progression and perceptions across the European Union and 15 countries globally in 26 subject areas.

Based on 20 years of data from Scopus across 12 geographies and all 27 Scopus subject areas, this is the third report Elsevier has produced on gender in the research landscape. It follows a global report released in 2017 and a report on Germany in 2015.

As with these previous studies, the 2020 report serves as a vehicle for understanding the role gender plays in the global research enterprise. Among the changes it brings are improvements in the methodology of inferred gender disambiguation of authors in Scopus and expanded analyses to cover a total of 16 countries/regions. It also includes new elements, such as career progression and collaboration network analyses and perspectives from researchers.

Key findings

The number of women to men among all authors is moving closer to being equal (Source: Scopus data in The researcher journey through a gender lens, Elsevier, 2020)While overall the representation of women in research is increasing, inequality remains. Data show where effort is still needed to ensure equality for women in terms of publication outputs, citations, awarded grants, and collaborations.

Research participation

  • In all countries studied and the EU28, the ratio of women to men among all authors was closer to parity during a recent 5-year period compared with a decade ago.
  • Men are more highly represented among authors with a long publication history while women are highly represented among authors with a short publication history.

Research footprint

  • On average, women researchers author fewer publications than men in every country, regardless of authorship position. The least difference in the number of publications by women compared to men is observed among first authors, and the biggest difference is observed among all authors.
  • Among first authors, the average citation impact of men is higher than that of women, suggesting gender bias in citation practice.

The greatest increase in the proportion of women among authors is seen in nursing and psychology, and the smallest increase is in the physical sciences. (Source: Scopus data in The researcher journey through a gender lens, Elsevier, 2020)

Publishing careers and mobility

  • The percentage of women among all authors in the cohort declines over time (between the year of authors’ first publication in 2009 up to 2018) in all countries and regions except Portugal.
  • In every country, the percentage of women who continue to publish is lower than men who continue to publish.

Collaboration networks

  • Across many subject areas and countries, men tend to have more co-authors than women and this difference is wider for authors with a longer publication history.
  • Women and men are more similar in the way they are connected to their potential collaborative space (second-order collaborators) through their direct collaborators.

Researcher perspectives

Researcher attitudes towards gender diversity and equity vary widely among men and women. Most of the differences in viewpoints are related to the importance in individual places on gender balance and to the perception of fairness in the academic system.

Survey question

Survey response to the statement: "In my organization, women have to perform better than men to be considered good at their job," by gender and subject area.

  • There are two opposing opinions on the causes of gender imbalance and inequality in academia.
  • Some groups (men and women) attribute gender inequality to the attitudes and ambition levels of women.
  • Other groups attribute gender inequality to a systemic and cultural (unconscious) bias against women.

Data

While the report itself is rich in terms of the data presented, we are pleased to make the underlying data available for non-commercial research purposes.

This report incorporates methodology of inferred gender disambiguation of authors in Scopus. It has expanded analyses to cover 16 countries and regions. In addition, it includes career progression and collaboration network analyses as well as perspectives from researchers.

Use the Tableau dashboards to look at all the countries and subject-specific author gender statistics.

This report also draws on qualitative data to illustrate the diverse viewpoints of researchers related to gender diversity and equity. This qualitative data was derived from surveying researchers as illustrated below. For a detailed breakdown of the methodology, check out Appendix A in the report

Qualitative data methodology

To cite this report

De Kleijn, M, Jayabalasingham, B, Falk-Krzesinski, HJ, Collins, T, Kuiper-Hoyng, L, Cingolani, I, Zhang, J, Roberge, G, et al: The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens: An Examination of Research Participation, Career Progression and Perceptions Across the Globe (Elsevier, March 2020) Retrieved from www.elsevier.com/gender-report

Webinar

The Researcher Journey Through a Gender Lens: Findings from Elsevier’s Report

Available on demand, recorded May 27, 2020. Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, Elsevier's VP of Research Intelligence, and Bamini Jayabalasingham, PhD, Senior Analytical Product Manager, guide you through the key findings from the report, their implications and future actions. Register here

Expert commentary

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Report 2017: Gender in the Global Research Landscape

Gender balance in research: new analytical report reveals uneven progress

Gender balance in research: new analytical report reveals uneven progress

Elsevier examines research performance through a gender lens in global, cross-disciplinary study

By Alice Atkinson-Bonasio | 8 March 2017

There is widespread agreement that fostering diversity is integral to innovation in research, and gender equality is key to achieving this. Critical issues related to gender disparity and bias must be examined by sound studies to support a data-informed approach to implementing interventions and policy related to gender inequality. A report released today provides unprecedented insight into these issues. Gender in the Global Research Landscape was produced by Elsevier in partnership with global experts to provide an analytical framework for better understanding the role of gender within the structure of the global research enterprise. Based on 20 years of data from Scopus and ScienceDirect – across 12 geographies and all 27 Scopus subject areas – the report is an evidence-based examination of global research performance through a gender lens.

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Report 2015: Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena

Getting women to the top in science challenges Germany, per report at #GS7Eu

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Elsevier’s new report on gender in German research will be presented at the Gender Summit in Berlin – download it here

By Lei Pan, PhD, Judith Kamalski, PhD and Elizabeth Kalinaki | 5 November 2015

In Germany, even though the number and share of female scientists has increased in the past 5 years, they are still outnumbered and lag behind their male counterparts in research performance.That was a key finding of the new report Mapping Gender in the German Research Arena, conducted by Elsevier’s Analytical Services team. It will be presented today at the Gender Summit 7 Europe in Berlin. (See the infographic at the end of this story.)

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