Gender differences in the publication productivity of South African scientists

Prozesky, H. E. (Heidi Eileen) (2006-12)

Dissertation (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is aimed at describing gender difference in publication productivity among South African academic authors, and to develop an understanding of possible reasons for these differences. It is argued that the lack of empirical knowledge of publication productivity of academics in South Africa needs to be addressed, as scientific communication through publication is one of the most central social processes in science. Moreover, one form of scientific publication, the peer-reviewed article, has become the single most important aspect according to which academics in South Africa and abroad are rewarded. The focus on gender differences is motivated by the fact that women have been strengthening their representation in South African HEIs, but not their proportional contribution to our country’s output of accredited research articles. A review of the past four decades of empirical and theoretical work on the gender gap in publication productivity leads the author to identify three sets of factors that may account for its existence: gender-socialised differences between women and men, women’s greater family responsibilities, and gender-related deficits in the academic workplace. However, none of these sets of variables by themselves satisfactorily account for gender differences in publication productivity, and they should not be considered independent from each other. The literature review is followed by a review of methodological considerations that need to be taken into account when studying gender differences in publication productivity. Against this background, the advantages and limitations associated with the first empirical project of the dissertation - a secondary analysis of SA Knowledgebase, an existing bibliometric database - are identified. This analysis is aimed at quantifying gender differences in the publication productivity of South African academic authors; at controlling for relevant variables (race, age, highest qualification, rank, institutional affiliation and scientific domain); and at investigating gender differences in the tendency towards joint authorship. The results show that South African male authors publish almost twice as many articles in accredited journals than women authors do, but that the latter’s contribution to the total scientific publication output of South Africa has increased from 16 percent in 1990 to 24 percent in 2001. Part of the gender gap in publication productivity can be explained by women’s younger age, lower qualification level and lower rank as a gender group, but not by any tendency among women to co-author less than men do. This project was complemented by the analysis of primary data collected from the CVs of and qualitative interviews with sixteen highly productive South African academics. This second project contributes to the development of a more in-depth understanding of the way in which men and women’s publication productivity is differentially affected, in a predominantly male milieu and across the span of their careers, by their family responsibilities, non-research academic roles, and gender-socialisation. The dissertation concludes with an integration of the literature review with the main findings of the two projects, on the basis of which recommendations are made for future research, and proposals are made towards rendering the measurement of publication productivity more sensitive to the gender differences highlighted by the dissertation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif het ten doel om genderverskille in publikasieproduktiwiteit van Suid-Afrikaanse akademiese outeurs te beskryf, en om ʼn begrip te ontwikkel van moontlike redes vir dié verskille. Daar word aangevoer dat ʼn gebrek aan empiriese kennis oor die publikasieproduktiwiteit van akademici in Suid-Afrika aangespreek behoort te word, aangesien wetenskaplike kommunikasie deur middel van publikasie een van die mees sentrale proses in die wetenskap is. Daarbenewens het een vorm van wetenskaplike publikasie, die eweknie-beoordeelde artikel, die enkele belangrikste aspek geword waarvolgens akademici in Suid-Afrika en oorsee beloon word. Die fokus op genderverskille word gemotiveer deur die feit dat vroue hul verteenwoordiging in Suid-Afrikaanse hoër-onderwysinstellings versterk het, maar nie hul proporsionele bydrae tot ons land se uitset van geakkrediteerde navorsings-artikels nie. ʼn Oorsig van die afgelope vier dekades se empiriese en teoretiese werk oor die gender-gaping in publikasieproduktiwiteit lei tot die identifisering van drie stelle faktore wat die bestaan daarvan sou kon verklaar: gender-gesosialiseerde verskille tussen vroue en mans, vroue se swaarder gesinsverantwoordelikheidslas, en gender-verbandhoudende tekortkominge in die akademiese werkplek. Opsigself verklaar geen enkele van hierdie stelle veranderlikes egter gender-verskille in publikasieproduktiwiteit op ʼn bevredigende wyse nie, en hulle behoort nie onafhanklik van mekaar beskou te word nie. Die literatuur-oorsig word gevolg deur ’n oorsig van metodologiese oorwegings wat in ag geneem behoort te word ter bestudering van gender-verskille in publikasieproduktiwiteit. Teen hierdie agtergrond word die voordele en beperkinge verbonde aan die eerste empiriese projek van die proefskrif – ʼn sekondêre ontleding van SA Knowledgebase, ’n bestaande bibliometriese databasis - geïdentifiseer. Hierdie ontleding van is daarop gemik om gender-verskille in die publikasieproduktiwiteit van Suid-Afrikaanse akademiese outeurs te kwantifiseer; om vir relevante veranderlikes te kontroleer (ras, ouderdom, hoogste kwalifikasie, rang, institusionele affiliasie en wetenskaplike domein); en om gender-verskille in mede-outeurskap te ondersoek. Die resultate toon dat Suid-Afrikaanse man-outeurs bykans twee maal soveel artikels in geakkrediteerde vaktydskrifte as vroue-outeurs publiseer, maar dat laasgenoemde se bydrae tot die totale wetenskaplike publikasie-uitset van Suid-Afrika vanaf 16 persent in 1990 tot 24 persent in 2001 toegeneem het. Deel van die gender-gaping in publikasieproduktiwiteit kan verklaar word aan die hand van vroue se jonger ouderdom, laer kwalifikasievlak, en laer rang as ʼn gender-groep, maar nie aan die hand van enige neiging by vroue om minder as mans met andere te publiseer nie. Hierdie projek is aangevul deur die ontleding van primêre data wat ingesamel is vanuit die CV’s van, en kwalitatiewe onderhoude met sestien hoogs-produktiewe Suid-Afrikaanse akademici. Hierdie tweede projek dra by tot die ontwikkeling van ’n meer in-diepte begrip van die wyse waarop mans en vroue se gesinsverantwoordelikhede, hul nie-navorsingsverbandhoudende akademiese rolle, en hul gendersosialisering in ’n oorwegend manlike milieu en oor die bestek van hul loopbane heen differensieel op hul publikasieproduktiwiteit inwerk. Die proefskrif sluit af met ’n integrasie van die literatuur-oorsig met die hoofbevindinge van die twee projekte, op grond waarvan aanbevelings vir toekomstige navorsing gemaak word, en voorstelle aan die hand gedoen word vir die meting van publikasieproduktiwiteit wat sensitief sou wees vir die genderverskille wat in hierdie proefskrif uitgelig is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17330
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