The history of the gender gap has its roots in stories that are millennia old. Over the past century, this once accepted part of society has been adjusted through moral, ethical, and legal stances, but even though it’s not the widely used practice it once was, it still exists in industries all over the world, including science.
As much as by now we’d like to think that science is a completely neutral field where things like race, gender, and other differences don’t exist, studies have shown that there is still a strong correlation between gender and research citations. Since citation indicators are a large part of a scholar’s reputation, this finding is not innocuous. Gender citation in the sciences must be understood in order to be addressed and corrected before it has even more detrimental impacts to the scholars in the field.
The Importance of Citation on a Scholar’s Reputation
Citation indicators play an integral role in the reputation of a scholar. They’re part of a new field of science called bibliometrics, which uses metadata to formulate quantitative results from a set of collected information. Metadata has been around for decades, but the Digital Era has made it increasingly easy, convenient, and useful for industries to use this information to drive their decisions and strategies.
Metadata through collected citation measures is cross-checked for accuracy, but it’s, in general, an automated process. The compilation of how many times a researcher’s work is cited through both academic and social forums is used as part of a formula that determines the scholar’s overall reputation. When researchers understand how this information is used to drive their individual academic ratings, they can optimize their work prior to publication to get as much of an impact as possible through SEO like keywords and article length. But when it comes to the subjective factor of how many times their work is then cited by others, this is an area that they have little control over. Since it’s so important, though, the playing field needs to be as even as possible, and gender citation gaps make it obvious that, even in the neutral field of science, discrimination exists, with dangerous consequences to the scholars.
Proof of Gender Citation Gaps and the Consequences
Studies within multiple subject disciplines have shown that there is a confirmation of gender gap through citations that shows a strong correlation between male researchers predominantly citing work by other males, rather than any similar work done by females. This finding is not a narrow number, either. It’s a significant portion of male researchers excluding citations of women, and the numbers have not improved over the past decade, so the trend is not changing with informative processes, education, and enhances policies in government.
In fact, men typically cite women as authors in their work an average of 14% less than they do their male peers. Additionally, women as co-authors followed this lowered rate of citing other women, but when they publish on their own, they become more likely to cite work by other female researchers.
This gender citation gap clearly states a power play in the benefit of male researchers, meaning that women are less likely to develop a high scholarly reputation without working extra hard in fields outside of citation indicators.
Reducing Bias in Gender as a Scholar
Bias is an implicit and explicit part of life that scholars must recognize in themselves in order to avoid. It’s crucial that science stays neutral, so your work must be free from any form of subjectivity that could make a difference in the outcome of the research itself or in future performance indicators.
To reduce bias, make sure you’re using your institution’s guidelines regarding who sponsors your work, how the design and steps are carried out, and which resources you use as a way to create more evidence of your findings.
Take extra care with qualitative studies to make sure you’re keeping detailed records of every aspect of your work. Practice self-reflection and ask a peer or fellow researcher to double-check your qualitative findings to ensure no bias is evidence.
Try to use resources that are equal parts authored by males and females if there is enough literature out there on the subject that you’re able to mine through until you find relevant material to diminish bias.
Keep Your Results Professional with Impactio
It’s not enough to have unbiased results. You need to ensure that your work is above reproach in all areas, and the first way to start is to use a professional program like Impactio.
With Impactio, researchers can easily compile their research accomplishments into a professional academic profile that can be shared with their target audience.
After publication, Impactio’s citation indicator program helps you monitor your impact level, check to see how others are doing, and guide you as to whether you may be demonstrating a bias towards one gender over another.
Impactio is a platform agreed on by researchers everywhere, regardless of gender or other demographics!