We analyze the role of first (leading) author gender on the number of citations that a paper receives, on the publishing frequency and on the self-citing tendency. We consider a complete sample of over 200,000 publications from 1950 to 2015 from five major astronomy journals. We determine the gender of the first author for over 70% of all publications. The fraction of papers which have a female first author has increased from less than 5% in the 1960s to about 25% today. We find that the increase of the fraction of papers authored by females is slowest in the most prestigious journals such as Science and Nature. Furthermore, female authors write 19$\pm$7% fewer papers in seven years following their first paper than their male colleagues. At all times papers with male first authors receive more citations than papers with female first authors. This difference has been decreasing with time and amounts to $\sim$6% measured over the last 30 years. To account for the fact that the properties of female and male first author papers differ intrinsically, we use a random forest algorithm to control for the non-gender specific properties of these papers which include seniority of the first author, number of references, total number of authors, year of publication, publication journal, field of study and region of the first author’s institution. We show that papers authored by females receive 10.4$\pm$0.9% fewer citations than what would be expected if the papers with the same non-gender specific properties were written by the male authors. Finally, we also find that female authors in our sample tend to self-cite more, but that this effect disappears when controlled for non-gender specific variables.
N. Caplar, S. Tacchella and S. Birrer
Mon, 31 Oct 16
Comments: Abridged version to be submitted to Nature Astronomy. Comments welcome. For readers with very little time, the central result of the paper is covered by Figure 6 (Section 5)