Several researchers have shown that publication productivity reflects and partially accounts for the depressed rank in status of women in science and engineering.16 However, this assumes that it is the number of papers that is important and does not account for differences in the impact of papers.

In decades past, data have shown an apparent gender gap in the numbers of papers published by men and women faculty. In a study of scientists who received PhDs in 1969-1970, Cole and Zuckerman estimated that, on average, women published slightly more than half (57%) as many papers as men.17 Little information is available on publication rates for minority-group scientists.18

The root of the difference in publication productivity is an essential question. Several studies have examined the effect of family-related factors. Although more women than men leave academe because of family responsibilities, research on the effects of marriage, children, or elder-care responsibilities has yielded mixed results.19 The critical variable appears to be access to resources. A recent longitudinal analysis by Xie and Shauman of faculty in postsecondary institutions in 1969, 1973, 1988, and 1993 shows that the sex difference in research productivity has declined—from a female:male ratio of 0.580:1 in 1969 to 0.817:1 in 1993. In that period, the primary factor affecting women scientists’ research productivity was their overall structural position, such as institutional affiliation and rank. When type of institution, teaching load, funding level, and research assistance are factored in, the productivity gap disappears.20


G Sonnert and G Holton (1996). Career patterns of women and men in the sciences. American Scientist 84:63-71; EG Creamer (1998). Assessing faculty publication productivity: Issues of equity (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 26(2)). Washington, DC: George Washington University; LJ Sax, S Hagedorn, M Arredondo, and FA Dicrisi (2002). Faculty research productivity: Exploring the role of gender and family-related factors. Research in Higher Education 43(4):423-446; MF Fox (2005). Gender, family characteristics, and publication productivity among scientists. Social Studies of Science 35(1):131-150.


JR Cole and H Zuckerman (1984). The productivity puzzle: Persistence and change in patterns of publication of men and women scientists. Advances in Motivation and Achievement 2:217-258; see also JS Long (1992). Measures of sex differences in scientific productivity. Social Forces 71:159-178; there appears to be a publication productivity gap between men and women and white and minority students in graduate school, see Chapter 3 and MT Nettles and CM Millett (2006). Three Magic Letters: Getting to PhD. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press.


MF Fox and JS Long (1995). Scientific careers: Universalism and particularism. Annual Review of Sociology 21:45-71; W Pearson (1985). Black Scientists, White Society, and Colorless Science: A Study of Universalism in American Science. Millwood, NY: Associated Faculty.


Reviewed in LJ Sax, S Hagedorn, M Arredondo, and FA Dicrisi (2002), ibid.


Y Xie and KA Shauman (1998). Sex differences in research productivity: New evidence about an old puzzle. American Sociological Review 63(6):847-870.

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