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Gendered Citation Patterns across Political Science and Social Science Methodology Fields

  • Michelle L. Dion (a1), Jane Lawrence Sumner (a2) and Sara McLaughlin Mitchell (a3)

Accumulated evidence identifies discernible gender gaps across many dimensions of professional academic careers including salaries, publication rates, journal placement, career progress, and academic service. Recent work in political science also reveals gender gaps in citations, with articles written by men citing work by other male scholars more often than work by female scholars. This study estimates the gender gap in citations across political science subfields and across methodological subfields within political science, sociology, and economics. The research design captures variance across research areas in terms of the underlying distribution of female scholars. We expect that subfields within political science and social science disciplines with more women will have smaller gender citation gaps, a reduction of the “Matthew effect” where men’s research is viewed as the most central and important in a field. However, gender citation gaps may persist if a “Matilda effect” occurs whereby women’s research is viewed as less important or their ideas are attributed to male scholars, even as a field becomes more diverse. Analysing all articles published from 2007–2016 in several journals, we find that female scholars are significantly more likely than mixed gender or male author teams to cite research by their female peers, but that these citation rates vary depending on the overall distribution of women in their field. More gender diverse subfields and disciplines produce smaller gender citation gaps, consistent with a reduction in the “Matthew effect”. However, we also observe undercitation of work by women, even in journals that publish mostly female authors. While improvements in gender diversity in academia increase the visibility and impact of scholarly work by women, implicit biases in citation practices in the social sciences persist.

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Authors’ note: We thank Amanda Meyers for section membership statistics for the American Political Science Association and Yanna Krupnikov, Michael Alvarez, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. See Dion et al. (2018, doi:10.7910/DVN/R7AQT1) for replication materials.

Contributing Editor: R. Michael Alvarez

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