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Julio-agosto de 2020, vol. 29, núm. 4
Investigación en Información y Comunicación / Information and Communication research

Gender disparities in UK research publishing: Differences between fields, methods and topics

Mike Thelwall; Mahshid Abdoli; Anna Lebiedziewicz; Carol Bailey

This article is available in open access

Abstract: Gender disparities persist in UK research, with female minorities in most science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects but female majorities in others. The nature of the gender disparity differences between subjects needs to be understood if effective remedial actions are to be targeted at STEM subjects suffering from a lack of women, in contrast to other subjects without shortages. Evidence from the USA suggests that women engage more in people-related subjects, qualitative methods, veterinary science and cell biology and men engage more in thing-related subjects, power/control fields, patient-related research, abstraction and quantitative methods, except surveys. This article investigates gender disparity differences in UK first authorship for journal articles in nearly all of science split into 26 broad and 308 narrow Scopus fields. The results largely replicate the USA but suggest that more life science topics may be female-associated in the UK and patient-related research might not be male-associated. UK STEM gender parity initiatives might therefore emphasise people-oriented, and perhaps socially positive, aspects of currently masculine STEM topics and approaches (e.g., abstraction, mathematical quantitative methods), and promote female-friendly topics, methods and goals within male-dominated fields in addition to tacking implicit and explicit sexism and providing a supportive working environment.

Keywords: Gender inequalities; Gender gaps; Scientific publishing; Disciplinary differences; Careers; Academic careers; Gender.