Women as Academic Authors, 1665-2010

Women’s presence in higher education has increased, but as authors of scholarly papers—keys to career success—their publishing patterns differ from those of men. Explore nearly 1,800 fields and subfields, across four centuries, to see which areas have the most female authors and which have the fewest, in this exclusive Chronicle report. See how overall percentages differ from the important first-author position and—in two major bioscience fields—from the prestigious last-author position. See "About these data" for details.

Source: Gender analysis led by Jevin West and Jennifer Jacquet at the University of Washington’s Eigenfactor Project.

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  • 1665-1970321,368 authors 
  • 1971-1990609,635 authors 
  • 1991-20101.1 million authors 
  • All years2.0 million authors 

Percentage of female authors


Author position

Author position refers to the order in which the authors' names are listed in a publication. The first position is usually given to whoever contributed the most work to the project. The last position, in the biosciences, is given to the coordinating researcher or principal investigator. Because it is less consistently meaningful outside of the biosciences, it is displayed only for those fields



About These Data

The articles and authors described in this data were drawn from the corpus of JSTOR, a digital archive of scholarly papers, by researchers at the Eigenfactor Project at the University of Washington. About two million articles, representing 1765 fields and sub-fields, were examined, spanning a period from 1665 to 2011. The data are presented here for three time periods, the latest one ending in 2010, and a view that combines all periods. A dataset that also includes papers from 2011 can be found at

Articles have been classified into fields and subfields using the hierarchical map equation method. (This is described in this technical article: The names of each field and subfield have been selected by hand and are not intended as a definitive classification, but rather to provide a general indication of the subject matter. Data was analyzed using the tools EigenfactorClassification, Gender Browser, Hoptree, and Hier_infomap.

The data derived from JSTOR include papers in the hard sciences, the social sciences, law, history, philosophy, and education. But there is limited coverage of engineering, English, foreign languages, and physics so they are excluded from this analysis.

Gender of authors was determined after researchers consulted data on birth names collected by the U.S. Social Security Administration. If a name was used at least 95 percent of the time for a female, that name was considered female; a similar test was used for male authors. If use of the name was more ambiguous, it was not included.

First author position is generally considered to be given to the person who made thelargest contribution to the paper. There are fields that are exceptions. Economics and mathematics, for example, commonly assign author order alphabetically.

Last author position, in the biological sciences, is generally reserved for the principal investigator or project director. This convention may not be observed in other disciplines, so analysis of last author here is restricted to major biological sciences.