Male graduate students working with female faculty are more likely to publish research than female students working with male faculty according to new research from economist Paula Stephan.
“No one has looked at gender issues at the doctoral level,” says Stephan, a professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. “We know that women publish less, and that publication gap gets magnified over the career. The question is, does that pattern start before or after graduate school? Our research shows it’s before.”
Utilizing new data based on university grant records, Stephan’s research builds on existing literature that has examined the relationship between gender and publication in scientific journals.
“With this new data we can make relationships we haven’t been able to make before,” she says.
Stephan and her coauthors focused on a cohort of graduate students from the California Institute of Technology and analyzed publication rates for both male and female students with male and female faculty advisors. They also examined how publishing relates to the gender composition of the team with which the graduate student works.
No relationship was found between rate of publication and gender composition of the teams. However, it was found that men write 8.5 percent more articles than women. Students with female faculty advisors were found to publish 7.7 percent more than students with male advisors.
After introducing gender pairing into the analysis, it was found that male students with female advisors publish 10 percent more than male students with male advisors. Female students with male advisors were found to publish 8.5 percent less than males with male advisors.
“We did expect to find that women publish less than men by a small amount, but we were surprised by the gender pairing result,” Stephan says. “It’s a surprise that men writing with female faculty have an advantage.”
In the recently published paper, Gender and the Publication Output of Graduate Students: A Case Study, the co-authors also consider the quality of the journals in which the research is published using Journal Impact Factor, which reflects the amount of citations a journal receives over a certain period of time. This quality measure only magnified the findings.
“There is a popular concept in science, supported by data, called cumulative advantage,” Stephan says. “Essentially, the more you have, the more you will get. It seems to work that way; more publications lead to more grants, which leads to more success, etc.”
Understanding where the cumulative advantage gender gap begins helps inform how to address it, she says. She also believes more research needs to be done to include more graduate programs. Currently, 24 universities are in the process of joining the new data source the co-authors used in their case study, making this future research a possibility.
Existing social research on females as mentors and on male mentors working with female students may shed light on the findings. Stephan notes that at the graduate level, student and faculty pairings are not random and choice may contribute to these patterns.
“At a minimum, these findings may make mentors think about whether or not the data reflect their behavior,” she says.
Read the article from Stephan and co-authors Michele Pezzoni, University of Nice, Jacques Mairesse, United Nations University, and Julia Lane New York University at https://bit.ly/1TY61Yx.