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The Role of Gender in Scholarly Authorship

Figure 2. Even in fields with a gender composition near parity, men (blue bars) and women (pink bars) are unequally distributed in subfields. Shown here is sociology and its subfields from 1990 to the present. An interactive version of this graph, covering all fields and subfields of the JSTOR network dataset, is available online at

West, Jevin D., Jennifer Jacquet, Molly M. King, Shelley J. Correll, Carl T. Bergstrom. 2013. The role of gender in scholarly authorship. PLOS ONE 8(7). e66212. 

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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.


Jevin D. West
Carl T. Bergstrom
Jennifer Jacquet