Publishing Productivity in STEM Fields: Exploring Why Women Publish Less than Men

Wednesday, September 15
12-1:00 p.m.
Lattimore Hall, Room 540

Mary Jane Curry, associate professor
Rachel Chaffee, doctoral student

Writing for publication is a core activity of academic research productivity and the chief currency of academia, supporting the hiring, promotion, and research funding of faculty members. However, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, women publish at lower rates than do men. Despite some research addressing this question, the factors contributing to women’s lower rates of publishing have not been definitively determined. In this talk we will provide an overview of this research then explore the situation of women writing for publication in the field of engineering. One hypothesis for women’s lower rates of publishing is that they have fewer opportunities to collaborate on research (even in the highly collaborative STEM disciplines), publish less theoretical work and publish in less-valued genres and venues (e.g., non-refereed journals) than do their male counterparts. Thus finding opportunities for collaboration and networking appears to be of paramount importance for women to publish. Drawing on interviews and focus group data with female engineering graduate students and post-docs, and ongoing ethnographic observations of three engineering research groups, we will discuss women’s experiences during the process of conducting and writing about research. In aiming to understand lower publishing rates among women, the paper will document the types of collaboration to which they have access (and with whom), the nature of mentoring they may or may not receive, and other contextual (environmental) and textual factors.

Tags: event, Mary Jane Curry, STEM