Are Women Scientists Getting the Credit They ... - ACS Publications

Are Women Scientists Getting the Credit They Deserve? Christy Haynes. Anal. Chem. , 2017, 89 (15), pp 7817–7817. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02661. ...
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Are Women Scientists Getting the Credit They Deserve?


are even more necessary in cases of intersectionality (i.e., a scientist who is a woman of color). All of the actions I suggest could be categorized simply as being more conscientious, because we are all more likely to fall prey to our implicit biases when we do not have the time or bandwidth to act conscientiously. Thus, I am appealing to all readers, authors, reviewers, and editors of Analytical Chemistry to be intentional when considering who deserves credit for the scientific work that we showcase.

t is a common refrain that there are too few women chemists in top tier academic departments, with industrial leadership positions, and among prestigious award winners. For many years, the chemistry community has been waiting for the increasing number of undergraduate women chemistry majors to put enough women into the pipeline to overcome these discrepancies but, unfortunately, that pragmatic outcome has not been borne out. There are many social science studies working to understand different aspects of our “pipeline problem” and there are many programs, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE grant program, actively working to improve the gender imbalance at the top of our field. These studies and efforts are importantwe should want to decrease the gender gap both because we know it is the “right thing” to do and because a variety of studies show that more diverse teams are more creative and productive. One particularly difficult-to-spot reason why women may be underrepresented among the most visible chemists is if women scientists’ contributions are overlooked or misattributed to their male colleagues. This phenomenon is known to social scientists as the “Matilda Effect.”1 As part of Analytical Chemistry’s team of associate editors, I can say that any incident of misattribution in submitted manuscripts is a serious issue; it is alarming to realize that misattribution may be systemic and unrecognized as the “Matilda Effect” suggests. While there are some famous historical examples where the “Matilda Effect” was at work, including Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, and Lise Meitner, there are also contemporary studies showing that the “Matilda Effect” is still impacting how science is done and who’s voices are heard.2 Some common contemporary manifestations include the disproportionately small number of (1) award nominations and wins by women scientists, (2) citations of studies written by women scientists, and (3) collaboration opportunities for women scientists. Unfortunately, there is limited published research about how to fight the “Matilda Effect,” so I brainstormed some ideas on how our community can start to address this problem. First, we should work harder to normalize the concept of women scientists, including efforts to increase representation of women among practicing scientists. Second, men and women alike should actively try to come up with women candidates for awards, collaborations, or leadership positions. Third, women scientists should actively pursue publicity for their work, and mentors of women scientists should also push them to pursue these opportunities. Fourth, academic leaders should be explicit about criteria for determining authorship, teach their mentees about these criteria, and then follow these criteria based on careful consideration of actual contributions to the studies done. Fifth, editors of scientific journals should examine the data regarding how the gender breakdown of papers submitted to their journal compares to papers published and work with their staff to overcome bias on this front. While the actions in this list are focused on better recognizing women scientists, they could just as easily be applied to other underrepresented groups and, in all likelihood, © 2017 American Chemical Society



Christy Haynes: 0000-0002-5420-5867 Notes

Views expressed in this editorial are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the ACS. This editorial was adapted from my blog on the same topic at, March 8, 2017.


(1) Rossiter, M. Social Studies of Science 1993, 23 (2), 325−341. (2) Budden, A.; et al. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 2008, 23 (1), 4− 6. Bornmann, L.; et al. Journal of Informetrics 2007, 1 (3), 226−238. Moss-Racusin, C.; et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2012, 109 (41), 16474−16479.

Published: July 13, 2017 7817

DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02661 Anal. Chem. 2017, 89, 7817−7817