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First authorship gender gap in the geosciences

Pico, T. and Bierman, P. and Doyle, K. and Richardson, S. (2020) First authorship gender gap in the geosciences. Earth and Space Science, 7 (8). Art. No. e2020EA001203. ISSN 2333-5084.

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Although gender parity has been reached at the graduate level in the geosciences, women remain a minority in faculty positions. First authorship of peer‐reviewed scholarship is a measure of academic success and is often used to project potential in the hiring process. Given the importance of first author publications for hiring and advancement, we sought to quantify whether women are underrepresented as first authors relative to their representation in the field of geoscience. We compiled first author names across 13 leading geoscience journals from January 2013 to April 2019 (n = 35,183). Using a database of 216,286 names from 79 countries, across 89 languages, we classified the likely gender associated with each author's given (first) name. We also estimated the gender distribution of authors who publish using only initials, which may itself be a strategy employed by some women to preempt perceived (and actual) gender bias in the publication process. Female names represent 13–30% of all first authors in our database and are substantially underrepresented relative to the proportion of women in early career positions (30–50%). The proportion of female‐name first authors varies substantially by subfield, reflecting variation in representation of women across geoscience subdisciplines. In geoscience, the quantification of this first authorship gender gap supports the hypothesis that the publication process—namely, achievement or allocation of first authorship—is biased by social factors, which may modulate career success of women in the sciences.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData/Code Paper
Pico, T.0000-0002-3629-0922
Bierman, P.0000-0001-9627-4601
Additional Information:© 2020 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Issue Online: 20 August 2020; Version of Record online: 20 August 2020; Accepted manuscript online: 01 August 2020; Manuscript accepted: 18 July 2020; Manuscript revised: 29 June 2020; Manuscript received: 08 April 2020. We are grateful to K. Blaufuss and B. Hanson for providing a data set on first authorship demographics in AGU journals. T. Pico acknowledges funding from Harvard University and National Science Foundation GRFP. Data Availability Statement: The code used in this study is available in the following Git Hub repository ( Please cite
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Harvard UniversityUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:science careers; gender bias; scholarly productivity; geoscience
Issue or Number:8
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200819-084412656
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Official Citation:Pico, T., Bierman, P., Doyle, K., & Richardson, S. (2020). First authorship gender gap in the geosciences. Earth and Space Science, 7, e2020EA001203.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105020
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Aug 2020 15:54
Last Modified:02 Mar 2021 21:28

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