Women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

I am passionate about the issue of women and academia; well, generally in everything that has to do with higher education and publications. Here I found several different issues, on two different levels.

The first level has to do with women’s access to higher education, which I won’t go this time. The other level is more sophisticated, if I can use the expression, and includes two issues in particular:

  1. The first is why women don’t have access to full professor positions, which I wrote about obliquely in another post about self-citations; being the reason, in short, their publications in journals.
  2. And the other is why there are fewer women holding professorships in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which is what I will discuss or reflect here (women academics on fire, the sciences on ice).

The other day I received a McKinsey article on women; articles that are almost always good and interesting. It was called ‘How to attract US women to the sciences’, and was saying that “compared with their counterparts elsewhere, American women shun STEM fields of knowledge”.

The reasoning i not simple: it is not that science appeals less to women, or that they make it worse than men, which is almost the opposite, at least in high school (Mckinsey, 2013); but that they are less interested in choosing these types of grades at college. In other words, in general, women are not attracted to STEM sciences as a career option, the place where they will spend the rest of their lives….

  • And going further, it is not that women are not interested at all, it is that the alternatives are better, at least in developed countries, such as business, nursing or law (academic) careers; which now have better or equal prestige and opportunities than that of the STEM areas.
  • Additionally, it appears that academic careers in STEM areas are less rewarding for women, at least in terms of publications, since female scientists often get less credit than a comparatively male researcher, even if their work is similar.

If this is really so, that STEM science careers in academia is not so attractive to women, what can be done? Should we do something? Even if women themselves are against it? It may also be that women are not fascinated by the idea of ​​being in an academic world in which their work is less valued, even by themselves, and this indeed can be changed.

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Women, Academia and Science: some facts and ideas

In general, I have interest about the issue of gender in today’s society, but I had not related it to the world of education and academia, so I’ve started to document myself. To begin with I found a couple of interesting ideas, both interrelated.

women and academia

The first one is the Matilda Effect, which says the women scientists often get less credit than a comparatively male researcher, even if their work is similar.

And the second idea is what it is suggested by some very interesting statistics about women and academia, referred to STEM fields of knowledge (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics):

  • Female students’ global share in higher education is 41% in natural sciences and 21% in engineering (UNESCO, 2010).
  • Women’s share of doctoral degrees in engineering and science:
    • Republic of Korea         16% – 44%
    • European Union           33% (overall)
    • USA                                  21% – 31%
    • Japan                              12% – 27%
  • 27% of researchers in STEM sciences are women (OCDE, 2008):
    • Argentina, 51%, has the highest proportion in the world of women researchers. Argentina is in fashion: A Pope, a Queen, a Soccer Star and Gender Friendly in Academia!
    • USA, 41%. 30% professors.
    • Europe, 34%
    • Brazil, 25%
    • Japan, 14%
  • Researcher, publications and patents women ratios (Naldi et al, 2005):
    • Spain:                36%, 27% y 11%
    • Italy:                   33%, 26% y 6%
    • France:              31%, 25% y 9%
    • Sweden:            31%, 18% y 5%
    • UK:                     28%, 16% y 6%
    • Germany:          24%, 14% y 4%

And this is in Higher Education, where most of it is funded by governments, which are supposed to take care of these gender questions…

Many solutions are proposed medium term, as making STEM education friendly to women or changing policies to increase women’s share in research (Schiebinger, 2010), but I wonder if web 3.0. tools for academics may be part of the solutions, helping to balance women’s familiar and academic life.

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?According to the discussions opened on various forums about whether academic journals are racist when it comes to accept and publish articles from foreign autors (Do you think that journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published?), I found a general feeling, by authors from countries outside Europe and USA, that there is some discrimination from these two geographical areas, because Journals don’t trust either the quality of their research, their universities of affiliation, or their English writing.

Instead, the result of the poll has shown the opposite of what I expected for these comments in social networks just mentioned:

  • 56% – Yes, journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published
  • 44% – No, they are not

But the recent European election on May 24th, 2014, in which there has been clear progress by xenophobic parties, has made me to rethink the issue: It’s just a feeling on the part of the authors to justify the rejection of scientific articles in journals? Or is there something that we can do from Europe and USA to improve scholarly publishing and that perception?

Although this survey is part of a blog, and was not intended to be the basis of an academic research, but only investigate the feeling I had, collected on the Internet; now I think there is room for a good project on the causes of discrimination in the publication of articles by authors from non-Western countries, and what kind of corporate governance policies could be implemented in scientific journals to prevent this unfortunate perception of rejection to foreign research (racism).

Many of you’ll think: “The only thing that was missing in academia: policies for journals of affirmative action for authors (and not why for women) from countries outside of Europe and USA.” It’s all for the good of fair play, the development of research and its dissemination.

 

* The poll was posted in April and May 2014 in many academic discussion groups. Around 450 answers were collected.

Series on Academic Publishing

These e-Books are part of a series on scholarly publishing and the academic world, based on the reflections captured by the author in this blog since December 2012.

With an affordable price (0.99 USD), each containing 4,500 to 7,500 words, and an easy and quick read, make them the perfect mini-manuals as reference and self-help books to improve the knowledge and performance when disseminating research and publishing in scientific journals.

The series is initially composed of three books, available at Amazon.com:

Publishing Research Papers in Academic Journals

1. Publishing Research Papers in Academic Journals

Understanding the scholarly publishing world, the pressures to publish in scientific journals and the role of women in academia

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Scholarly Writing, Citations, and SEO

2. Scholarly Writing, Citations and SEO

How to increase the probabilities of your research paper to be cited through writing and academic SEO

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Understanding Academic Journals and Its Editors

 3. Understanding Academic Journals and its Editors

The world through the eyes of the editors of scientific journals

My e-Books

Publish in Journals 3.0Publish in Journals 3.0: From manuscript to citations.

An amazing way for busy academics to publish regularly in journals using web 3.0 tools

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—————— E-BOOK SERIES ON SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING ——————–

Publishing Research Papers in Academic Journals

1. Publishing Research Papers in Academic Journals

Understanding the scholarly publishing world, the pressures to publish in scientific journals and the role of women in academia

.

.

Scholarly Writing, Citations, and SEO

2. Scholarly Writing, Citations and SEO

How to increase the probabilities of your research paper to be cited through writing and academic SEO

.

.

.

Understanding Academic Journals and Its Editors

3. Understanding Academic Journals and its Editors

The world through the eyes of the editors of scientific journals

Self-citations, is it worth to work on them?

self-citations, is it worth doing them?Last week an article in The Economist (Promotion and Self-Promotion) treated the subject of self-citations in academia as common practice, but it did so to justify why women get less important academic positions than men in all fields of knowledge, because it looks like that female scientists cite less their own previous work when publish a paper their male peers.

    • Articles with all-male authors are more highly cited than papers with all-female ones, about 5 times, with an average of 25 citations per publication. And this is caused partly because male researchers self-cite more often.

Being cited is increasingly important, we don’t only need to publish in indexed journals with impact factor (citations of the journal), but it is also looked at the number of citations that our publications have. How far will this pressure go?

Thus, self-publishing is a way, at least in the short term, to increase citations, which arises a number of questions:

  1. In general, self-citations are seen as a form of self-promotion, and are therefore not well regarded, but, who are looking at the details of citations?
  2. If the article is written by several authors, is it self-citation? Is it less objectionable?
  3. Citations are dependent on many factors, such as your field of knowledge, the journal impact factor, the interest generated, etc… so, is it good enough the current citation metrics system?

The author of ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’, John Gray, holds a very interesting theory in his latest book (Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice): That women get to lower directive positions because they have less testosterone, that is, less ambition; that at some point in their careers they conform with what they have because of all the rest of activities that they have to do, as mothers, educators, housework, etc (as many men do, too). The truth is that this theory convinces me more than self-citations as a driver for promotion as professor.

Do you self-cite?  Or in other words, are you a male or female researcher?

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