Gender Differences in Research Productivity

Numerous studies have found that female scientists publish at slower rates than male scientists. In a classic statement of the problem, Jonathan Cole and Harriet Zuckerman characterize this gender gap in publication rates as "the productivity puzzle."

Yu Xie
Sep 26, 1999

Numerous studies have found that female scientists publish at slower rates than male scientists. In a classic statement of the problem, Jonathan Cole and Harriet Zuckerman characterize this gender gap in publication rates as "the productivity puzzle."1 A widely held statistic stemming from the study by Cole and Zuckerman is that female scientists are slightly more than half as productive as male scientists. If this sounds like the 59-cent button (the symbol adopted to protest the gender gap in wages), you are on the right track.

It was not until the late 1980s that women's average wage began to improve toward equity relative to men's. A parallel but more dramatic story is true with the gender gap in research productivity. We recently conducted a systematic and detailed analysis of data from four large, nationally representative surveys of postsecondary faculty in 1969, 1973, 1988, and 1993.2 Our research yielded...