“Great strides have been made in gender equality over the last decade and western women generally have the same opportunities in science as men. Researchers from Lund University show that there are still areas where gender bias is evident.
In the August 30 of Nature, researchers have found that a much lower percentage of women were invited to write articles in News & Views in Nature and Perspectives in Science. “We believe that fewer women than men are offered the career boost of invitation-only authorship in each of the two leading science journals” says Daniel Conley a researcher at Lund University.
The consequences are that women are not as visible as men and are not provided the same opportunities for career advancement. The loss of women in science constitutes a brain drain for society.
When Nature in 2005 was criticized for offering too few women the opportunity to write for the Insight section, Nature increased the proportion of women authors. “Gender parity can be achieved if Nature and Science are willing to make the effort to include more women in their invitation-only sections” says Johanna Stadmark, also from Lund University.
“Examination of the proportion of men and women that are invited to participate in all areas of science, whether that is as and invited speaker, a workshop participant, or for Science and Nature is only good scientific practice” adds Daniel Conley.”
A call to commission more women writers
“We have analysed the gender distribution of authors of News & Views articles in Nature and of Perspectives in Science for 2010 and 2011. Our numbers indicate that both journal sections under-represent women scientists.
We divided the articles into three broad subject categories: biological and chemical sciences (which includes medical sciences); physical sciences; and Earth and environmental sciences. We compared the proportion of women authors with the proportion of women scientists employed in 2006 in the United States in science and engineering in each of the three categories (see go.nature.com/bkechu).
We found that the proportion of women commissioned to write Nature News & Views articles was much lower than the proportion of women scientists overall: female authorship was 17.3% for the biological and chemical sciences, 8.1% for physical sciences and 3.8% for Earth and environmental sciences, with the proportion of women authors of Perspectives in Science being slightly larger. However, the pool of women scientists in these disciplines was significantly higher than the proportion of female authorship at 32%, 16% and 20%, respectively.
It should be pointed out that a large proportion of invited News & Views authors are full professors, and the percentage of full professors who are women is lower than that for all scientists. Also, the proportion of women full professors is smaller in the European Union than in the United States. However, the present proportion of women authors of News & Views and of Perspectives is very low, and we believe that it is still fair to conclude that fewer women than men are offered the career boost of invitation-only authorship in each of the two leading science journals. “
For more information contact:
Daniel Conley, Department of Geology, Lund University
Tel. +46 (0)70 – 749 43 41, firstname.lastname@example.org
Johanna Stadmark, Department of Geology, Lund University
Tel. +46 (0)70 – 364 04 39, email@example.com
Link to article in Nature: