Numerous studies have found that female scientists publish at lower rates than male scientists. So far, explanations for this consistent pattern have failed to emerge, and sex differences in research productivity remain a puzzle. We report new empirical evidence based on a systematic and detailed analysis of data from four large, nationally representative, cross-sectional surveys of postsecondary faculty in 1969, 1973, 1988, and 1993. Our research yields two main findings. First, sex differences in research productivity declined over the time period studied, with the female-to-male ratio increasing from about 60 percent in the late 1960s to 75 to 80 percent in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Second, most of the observed sex differences in research productivity can be attributed to sex differences in personal characteristics, structural positions, and marital status. These results suggest that sex differences in research productivity stem from sex differences in structural locations and as such respond to the secular improvement of women's position in science.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science