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#MyGenderGap

A recent trend amongst the scientists I follow on twitter is to calculate our gender gaps in authorship (see #MyGenderGap). This interesting trend is in response to a recent article in Nature, and a challenge for each of us to calculate our own data and turn our glare on our own house. I decided to take on the challenge and look at my own publishing patterns.

This was an interesting exercise for me. My lifetime gender ratio among unique collaborators is low: 0.375. Overall, I’ve published with 64 men and 24 women. My per paper ratio is higher, 0.98. The trends have changed through time (see the figure). During my dissertation, with a female advisor, my per-paper ratios were generally high and I had two papers with all female authors (the starred years, which I just divided by 1 for purposes of plotting). However, during my postdoc I was on a project with four male PIs, and published primarily with men. For the two papers I consider “new” projects not related to my postdoc or dissertation, my ratios are better: 1 (Blois et al., Science, 2013) and 0.57 (Blois et al. Ecography, in review). Another encouraging sign for me is that among the papers of which I am the first author, my gender ratio is 1.26, whereas for papers where I am simply one among many co-authors, the gender ratio is 0.69.

Gender ratio (M:F) of each of the papers on which I'm a co-author.  The starred publications had all female authors, and so the numbers presented are artificially low.

Gender ratio (M:F) of each of the papers on which I’m a co-author. The starred publications had all female authors, and so the numbers presented are artificially low.

Of course, there are many ways besides counting co-authors to quantify #MyGenderGap and contribute towards reducing it. For example, many of the commenters on twitter have calculated their gender gap among grad students, undergrads, etc. My sense is that if I quantified the ratio amongst my field assistants, the ratio would skew female, but it would be nice to have data to back up this perception.

I also feel like this is a particularly good exercise for the end of the year. It’s a nice way to both reflect on all the work I’ve accomplished (and remind myself that I have actually accomplished some good stuff), as well as a way to reflect on ways I could be doing better.


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