The Importance of Gender Equality in Science and Medicine
Xie, K. A. Shauman, 1998). The epitome of gender difference is the “productivity puzzle” —the persistent evidence that men publish more than women over the course of their career, which has inspired a plethora of possible explanations, from differences in family responsibilities, to career absences, resource allocation, the role of peer review, collaboration, role stereotypes, academic rank, specialization, and work climate. The persistence of these gender differences could perpetuate the naive interpretation that the research programs of female and male scientists are not equivalent. However, such simplistic reading of the data dismisses increasing evidence that systemic barriers impede the female academic. Indeed, the deep interrelatedness of these factors has limited our ability to differentiate the causes from the consequences of the productivity puzzle, complicating the scientific community’s ability to enact effective policies to address it. A key methodological obstacle has been the difficulty to reconstruct full publishing careers for scientists of both genders across the diverse academic population. Consequently, much of the available evidence on gender differences is based on case studies limited to subsets of active scientists in specific countries, disciplines, or institutions, making it difficult to compare and generalize the finding to all of science (M. F. Fox, K. Whittington, 2017).
With the evolving landscape, we are in the position to demand more from the evidence, to innovate beyond current discourses, and to realise true gender equality for everyone, everywhere. Achieving gender equality is not simply instrumental for health and development, its impact has wide-ranging benefits and is a matter of fairness and social justice for everyone.
J. S. Long, Measures of sex differences in scientific productivity. Soc. Forces 71, 159–178 (1992).
Y. Xie, K. A. Shauman, Sex differences in research productivity: New evidence about an old puzzle. Am. Socio. Rev. 63, 847–870 (1998).
M. F. Fox, K. Whittington, M. Linkova, “Gender,(in) equity, and the scientific workforce” in Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017).