publication rates

SLF notmyaddress at
Wed Nov 15 13:23:29 EST 2000

> Kate writes:

> There is another problem though. At the risk of being terribly disloyal to
> my gender, there is the problem that women of apparently equal ability to
> men publish less. Since most funding is contingent on publication rate, it
> is very likely that at an interview, this will weed out female applicants.
> I have no idea how to get around this problem. Part of it is due to young
> women scientists having babies and having less time for research. This
> inevitably impacts on their pub. rate (as I know from personal experience).
> But that's not the whole story. However, given that pub. rate might affect
> how much money a university department gets (as it does here in the UK),
> why should a dept. even try to hire women at all? Even if they *are* very
> clever?

That's the problem with using the raw numbers of papers
rather than some means of quality measurement.  While
the studies do indicate that women publish  less,
they do not support thta this is due to family constraints.
Married and unmarried women are equally productive.

part of it is due to the where the women in the sample
are working. They are more likely to be in teaching-
intensive positions than in high-profile research
environments.  (A recent report suggested that
women scientists may be deliberately eschewing the
high-profile environment).

part of it is due to the support they receive from their
institutions and other responsibilities.  Women are
often asked to do committee work, more than the
top men, because "they need a woman". And women
are less likely to receive things like secretarial or
lab support than men, as described by the MIT
report and  similar institutional studies done recently.

And part of it is due to HOW they publish. Rather than the
LPU (least publishable unit), women are more likely
to want to publishe a complete study.  This may reflect
their perception that they can't afford to be wrong.
Interestingly, when you try to do some quality control
(e.g., determining how often those papers are cited by
others, or more subjective evaluations) women come out on top.

Quality, not quantity.

Data addressing these points can be found at
(This also includes the statistic that 35% of women scientists think
they are average compared to 18% of men, while70% men consider
themselves above average compared to 32% women)

and other links from the women in biology launch page.
DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
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S L Forsburg, PhD  Associate Professor
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
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