By Ruth A. Pagell*
- Nine of the 16 universities in CWTS Leiden’s Gender rankings with over 50% female authorships are Polish
- Fifteen of the lowest-ranked universities with under 12% female authorships are Japanese
- Seven of the CWTS top 25 in authorships are in the top 1,000 in THE World 2022
- Only two of THE’s top 25 universities are in the top 200 in CWTS authorships
(5 Jul 2022) Gender can be a complicated and controversial topic. Even taking a narrow approach on gender, rankings, and metrics requires two articles. Part 1 focuses on gender rankings by percent of female authorships (CWTS), and ratios of female students (THE). It has summaries of what our data analysis and ranking organizations contribute to the discussion. Part 2 focuses on the performance of women’s universities, explores transgender issues affecting bibliometrics, and shares other gender-related research issues.
I have to disclose that I have a personal connection with gender. I would not be writing this article were it not for “affirmative action”, a policy that among other things looked at gender balance in the workplace. I was hired in a predominately female occupation because the university library doing the hiring had too many men. The library was told that it could only fill a vacancy if it were filled by a woman. I was a woman who lived a few miles away. The cost of interviewing me was a subway ticket and a cafeteria lunch.
PART 1: COMPANIES PROVIDING GENDER-BASED DATA
CWTS Leiden Gender Rankings (2021 edition)
The CWTS Leiden Rankings has one dataset for its different indicators. The 2021 dataset has 1,225 universities from 69 countries. The dataset is comprised of English language research articles and reviews published in core journals from 2016 to 2019, extracted from Clarivate’s Web of Science. CWTS introduced gender rankings in 2019. It uses different metrics from other rankings.
It is based on authorships, not publications:
A(MF) – authorships male and female, where the gender is identified; A(F), female authorships; and PA(F/MF), the percent of female authorships. Similar metrics are available for male authorships, and for instances where gender for authors cannot be identified as in countries such as mainland China where all of its universities have over 60% of unknown authorships. A(MF) and A(F) are size dependent, and PA(F/MF) is size independent. The Polish Medical University of Bialystok has the highest ratio of female authors and ranks 839th in total male/female authors. Harvard ranks first in total authors and 321 in percent. The rankings use Gender API, Genderize.io, and Gender guesser to determine gender.
When counting authorships, if there are three authors from university A and two from university B, university A receives three counts and university B receives two. The total for authorships in the Gender rankings is higher than the total number for publications in scientific indicators. For example, the Medical University of Bialystok has 6,382 authorships and 1,654 full-count publications.
16 of the 1,125 universities have 50 percent or more female authorships with 13 from Europe and three from South America. 14 of the top 25 CWTS institutions are Polish. 14 of the bottom 25 are Japanese. Results vary based on discipline as shown in the example below.
Click on an institution such as eastern Asia’s top university Mahidol for an example of all available indicators. Sugimoto and Lapivière provide an in-depth explanation and analysis of the Gender indicator.
In addition to data where authors’ gender is not identified, there is a growing number of non-binary and transgender authors who need to include their publications. Article 51 Part 2 covers this growing problem.
Times Higher Education rankings (2022 edition)
CWTS’ data confirm that women are trailing men in authoring research articles. THE’s data confirm that there are more female students in universities than males. THE’s World University rankings have been providing data on the ratios of female to male students since 2016 with over 60% of the universities having more females¹. I selected the 25 CWTS’ universities with the top percent of female authorships and the bottom 25 with the lowest percent of female authorships. I compared these 50 universities to THE World Rankings and its ratio of female to male students.
The universities with the highest percent of female authorships are not familiar names. 19 of the CWTS 25 are in the world rankings, with only seven in the top 1,000. None of THE’s top 25 are in the top 100 of CWTS. The highest-ranking THE university in the CWTS top 25 is Universidad NOVA Lisboa, ranked 401. 23 of the bottom 25 are ranked in THE with 14 in the top 1,000. Kyoto University is ranked 61 in the world out of over 2,000 universities and 1,209 in the world in percent of female authorships, out of 1,225. See Table 1 based on CWTS rankings compared to all universities listed by THE.
I then used THE’s 2022 top 25 in World rankings and compared them to their CWTS scores. See Table 2 for THE-based rankings and a surprise June 2022 finding. Table 3 below compares the top CWTS and THE Asian universities with Thailand taking six of the eleven top 100 spots. None of the universities have over 50% authorships.
There are country and regional differences in numbers and educational systems. Thailand and Saudi Arabia are two countries with over 20 listed universities with 80% reporting 50% or more female students. India has 13%. Saudi Arabia’s percent is based on separate male and female campuses, classes, and faculty under the same university name. India, Japan, Pakistan, and South Korea are male-dominated and have separate women’s universities. Part 2 focuses on women’s universities, primarily in the countries listed above.
REPORTS FROM INFORMATION /RANKING PROVIDERS – See Appendix for details
Times Higher Education issued two reports in 2022 in conjunction with UNESCO, Gender Reports: How global universities are performing Parts 1 and 2. Part one uses university level data based on THE’s Impact ranking, which includes universities that chose to participate. Part two uses UNESCO data at a country level. Suggestions for improvement are included.
Elsevier’s The researchers journey through a gender lens details female researchers, using data extracted from Scopus and from a survey of self-identified active researchers.
U-Multirank’s Gender Monitor analyzes the percent of females to males within the higher education ladder, including students, faculty, and administrators.
ANALYSIS OF RANKINGS AND REPORTS – with my personal opinion
More women are attending college but this is not reflected in the roles of women in academia in rankings and reports.
Encouraging women to go into STEM, which has a much higher publication rate and therefore more citation output than Social Science and Humanities will help their parent institutions. The downside is that it further undermines the interest in Social Sciences and Humanities, which are the fabric of our culture. The encouragement should be toward more women faculty publishing across all of the subjects that are needed for a knowledgeable society. This is reinforced in the THE-UNESCO’s Part 2: “The imbalance here is more than simply one of female underrepresentation; the underrepresentation of male students in the “caring” subjects is equally concerning, with far-reaching social and economic impacts on society.” (Bothwell)
¹THE’s interface could not sort the ratio data correctly so this is an approximation. To see the number of female students in a THE university multiply the number of students by the percent female. Mahidol has over 18,600 female students.
THE’s Impact Rankings Methodology: includes very detailed indicator definitions, but none of the underlying data.
Data on gender are part of SDGs 4, 5, and 8 and are incorporated into the THE Gender reports.
Type in a university’s name and users get anything from the latest scores for all rankings for the database to an entry with an address, which in cases of similar names helped select the correct institution for my women’s list.
Part 2 covers women’s universities, reports on the status of handling non-binary authorships, and other research issues related to gender.
Bothwell, E. et al. (May 2022). THE Report: Gender Equality: How Global Universities are Performing, pg 23. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/digital-editions/gender-equality-how-global-universities-are-performing-part-2
Sugimoto, C. & Larivière, V. (15 May 2019). “Indicators for Social Good”. Blog update” https://www.cwts.nl/blog?article=n-r2w2c4#authors
“The researcher journey through a gender lens, (March 2020) “. Elsevier’s reports on gender research https://www.elsevier.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1083971/Elsevier-gender-report-2020.pdf
For additional resources see Supplemental Bibliography.
A list of Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A. Pagell is emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University. After working at Emory, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii. She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674