The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented?

In most fields of science, medicine, and technology research, men comprise more than half of the workforce, particularly at senior levels. Most previous work has concluded that the gender gap is smaller today than it was in the past, giving the impression that there will soon be equal numbers of men and women researchers and that current initiatives to recruit and retain more women are working adequately. Here, we used computational methods to determine the numbers of men and women authors listed on >10 million academic papers published since 2002, allowing us to precisely estimate the gender gap among researchers, as well as its rate of change, for most disciplines of science and medicine. We conclude that many research specialties (e.g., surgery, computer science, physics, and maths) will not reach gender parity this century, given present-day rates of increase in the number of women authors. Additionally, the gender gap varies greatly across countries, with Japan, Germany, and Switzerland having strikingly few women authors. Women were less often commissioned to write ‘invited’ papers, consistent with gender bias by journal editors, and were less often found in authorship positions usually associated with seniority (i.e., the last-listed or sole author). Our results support a need for further reforms to close the gender gap.


Holman L, Stuart-Fox D, Hauser CE (2018) The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented? PLoS Biol 16(4): e2004956.