No evidence of citation bias as a determinant of STEM gender disparities in US biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology research

  • Mike ThelwallEmail author
  • Tamara Nevill


The lack of females in many Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in the USA is an ongoing concern, with many initiatives attempting to redress this imbalance. Some life sciences are apparently areas of relatively good practice, with higher proportions of female researchers than most other STEM subjects. This paper assesses gender differences in research contributions to 14 biochemistry, genetics or molecular biology specialisms in the USA 1996–2014/8, seeking evidence of trends in publishing and citation impact that may give insights into female success. With four exceptions (biochemistry, biophysics, biotechnology, and structural biology), the fields achieved or maintained at least 40% female first authors by 2018, with developmental biology and endocrinology both attaining female first author majorities. A regression analysis found close to gender parity overall in citation impact but a small male first author citation advantage in more fields than the opposite: an up to 3% increase in logged citation ratio to the world mean. This was partly due to males first authoring with larger teams. Fields with relatively many females did not favour female-led research with more citations, however.


Gender bias Citation analysis Bibliometrics Life sciences 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 950 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Statistical Cybermetrics Research GroupUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK

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