On the Compliance of Women Engineers with a Gendered Scientific System

Gita Ghiasi, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Wolfgang Glanzel
2015 PLoS ONE  
There has been considerable effort in the last decade to increase the participation of women in engineering through various policies. However, there has been little empirical research on gender disparities in engineering which help underpin the effective preparation, co-ordination, and implementation of the science and technology (S&T) policies. This article aims to present a comprehensive gendered analysis of engineering publications across different specialties and provide a cross-gender
more » ... sis of research output and scientific impact of engineering researchers in academic, governmental, and industrial sectors. For this purpose, 679,338 engineering articles published from 2008 to 2013 are extracted from the Web of Science database and 974,837 authorships are analyzed. The structures of co-authorship collaboration networks in different engineering disciplines are examined, highlighting the role of female scientists in the diffusion of knowledge. The findings reveal that men dominate 80% of all the scientific production in engineering. Women engineers publish their papers in journals with higher Impact Factors than their male peers, but their work receives lower recognition (fewer citations) from the scientific community. Engineers -regardless of their gender-contribute to the reproduction of the male-dominated scientific structures through forming and repeating their collaborations predominantly with men. The results of this study call for integration of data driven gender-related policies in existing S&T discourse. The funders had no role in study design, data income) [8] . Therefore, the construction of science, technology, and innovation (STI) policies must take into account the economic, social, and cultural factors that constrain women from engaging in scientific activities and perpetuate gender inequality [9] . Metaphors and catch phrases abound in describing the underrepresentation of women in science: the "productivity puzzle" questions the lower rate of female production of scientific works [10], the "leaky pipeline" [11] explains women's attrition in scientific work, and the "glass ceiling" speaks to the lack of advancement [12] [13] [14] . Women are said to toil under a "triple burden" of gender stereotypes, professional obligations, and the stress inherent in dealing with lack of social capital and limited opportunities and respond to the environment in four ways: (1) adapt to the current scientific system; (2) search for other science-related careers; (3) leave science; or (4) change the structure of science [15] . The last is perhaps the least common response and has been unsuccessful in many ways. Despite numerous initiatives to eradicate disparities, the pipeline still leaks women at a rate similar to the rates in the 1970s [16] and few women are in the highest echelons of science [17] . Cole and Zuckerman's [10] question of the productivity puzzle fueled academic interest in studying the persistence of gender disparity in research productivity (operationalized as number of publications) [6, [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] . Impact-measured by number of citations received-has also dominated scientometric studies of gender disparities, with differing results by discipline and country [6, 21, [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] , demonstrating the need for discipline-focused studies of gender disparities. Collaboration is one factor that has been shown to be positively related to increased productivity for female scientists [25, 31, 32] . Recent research has shown that female scientists collaborate-that is, co-author scientific papers-proportionally more than their male counterparts [33, 34] , contradicting earlier research on the topic [23, 31] . This propensity for collaboration may have positive impact on the production of new knowledge: gender diverse teams have also been shown to lead to increased team success [35, 36] . However, the type of collaborations in which women engage is not equal-for example, female scientists are also more likely to engage in domestic collaborations, rather than in international collaborations, which has severe implications for citation impact [6, 21] . Social network analysis (SNA) has emerged as a useful method for identifying the structure of collaboration networks in science. Newman [37] examined the density of collaboration networks across fields, finding significant differences between theoretical and experimental domains. These differences have led to several discipline-specific studies (e.g., [38] ). Studies have also been conducted to investigate the evolution and statistical properties of co-authorship networks (e.g., [39] [40] [41] [42] ). However, few studies have isolated the role of women in scientific collaboration networks. Exceptions include Whittington's [43] analysis of the co-inventorship network of life scientists in the Boston region, Badar's [44] analysis of chemistry researchers in Pakistan (which showed a stronger positive relationship of degree and closeness centrality for women), and the work of Ozel et al. [34] , which demonstrated that women are more likely to co-author with their female counterparts. Contextual factors are often overlooked in studies of productivity and impact-that is, the context in which the authors work (e.g., academic, corporate, government) are rarely included in the analyses. In the area of patent analysis, studies have suggested gender differences may be a direct result of the environments in which the work is conducted [43, 45, 46] . Policies, therefore, should be contextualized by knowledge of the social, cultural, and organizational factors that influence women's retention and success in science [12, 14] . Engineering is typically associated with technological advancements and innovation, which is central to many countries' economic growth [47] . Yet engineering fails to meet its promises for societal development, as women are largely underrepresented in this discipline [48] [49] [50] .
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145931 pmid:26716831 pmcid:PMC4696668 fatcat:wu6y3ld6ybdzjd4ctxki4q37sy