2018 Diversity and Inclusion Hackathon Outcomes: What We Know About Gender Citation Bias, and How to Solve It

About the Hackathon
The APSA Presidential Task Force on Women’s Advancement held a Diversity and Inclusion Hackathon at the 2018 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Boston, chaired by Mala Htun and Alvin B. Tillery, Jr.  At the hackathon, teams developed strategies to address key challenges facing the profession, build partnerships, and plans to move forward. This series of PSNow posts highlights those proposals and links to more resources for the profession.

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What we know about gender citation bias, and how to solve it. Resources and best practices for publishers, journal editors, peer reviewers, authors, external evaluators for tenure and promotion, and more! Check out the Gender Balance Assessment Tool (GBAT). Team led by Michelle Dion, Sara Mitchell, and Jane Sumner.

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Our team considered a range of hackathon deliverables – ranging from a list of recommended best practices around citations for authors, instructors, editors, departments, or professional associations to a schematic or prototype of a new website or web-based tool to promote citation equity.

In many disciplines like political science, women’s research is cited less often than men’s research.

Our team’s participation in the Hackathon is motivated, in part, by our on-going work about citation practices in research. An informal overview of our work is available in this Q&A following publication of our work in Political Analysis. PA also invited several scholars to reflect on our findings, and you may find their responses interesting as well. You might also want to check out Jane’s GBAT site, which can be used by authors, editors, or instructors to check the gender and ethnic balance of their reference lists and syllabi.

What we know: Evidence and Resources

Background Literature

Motivation: Citations to scholarly work have many career and financial payoffs. Yet who succeeds in the citation market varies. In many disciplines like political science, women’s research is cited less often than men’s research.

Is research by women cited less frequently than research by men in the same discipline?

In some fields, women have fewer overall (or per article) citations.

    • Economics (Ferber 1988; Ferber and Brun 2011); Ecology (Cameron et al 2016);
    • Political Science (Dion and Mitchell 2012; Maliniak et al 2013; Mitchell et al 2013); Library and Information Sciences (Håkanson 2005);
    • Linguistics and Sociology (Leahey et al 2008);
    • Health and Natural Sciences (Aksnes et al 2011; Beaudry and Lariviere 2016);
    • Even in some female dominated disciplines (e.g. social work with 65% female faculty; Carter et al 2017)

In some fields, there are no differences in men’s/women’s citations.

    • Public Administration (Corley and Sabharwal 2010);
    • Economic History (Di Vaio et al 2012);
    • Spanish science PhDs & Danish scientists (Borrego et al 2008; Nielsen 2015);
    • Criminal Justice (Stack 2002);
    • Forestry and Geography (Slyder et al 2011)

In other disciplines, women accrue more cites to their work than men.

    • Biochemistry (Long 1992); Construction studies (Powell et al 2009)

Why is women’s work cited less in research studies or course syllabi?

Matthew effect

    • Men publish more research & accrue more citations; more central in citation (Rossiter 1993; Reece-Evans 2010; Maliniak et al 2013)
    • Indices like h-index are especially prone to gender biases in fields where men generate a higher quantity of publications (Symonds et al 2006).
    • Scholars trained to focus on contributions by male

Matilda effect (Rossiter 1993) Women’s contributions are recognized less often or ignored in fields dominated by male scholars.

    • Women less represented in bibliographies, textbooks (Hardt et al 2017; Colgan 2017), syllabi (Cassesse et al 2012), etc.
    • Women cite their own work less often than men (Maliniak et al 2013; although we do not find this pattern in our data) and self-citations increase future citations (Hutson 2006; Ghiasi et al 2016).
    • Networking issues (e.g. edited volumes)
    • Contagion effects from looking at others’ reference pages

Hackathon Team Participants: Susan Allen, Kristin Bryant, Erica De Bruin, Eveline Dowling, Carlisle Rainey, Maya Sen, Amy Erica Smith, Caroline Tolbert Charmaine Willis and Carol Weissert.