The gender gap in Psychology

There is a stricken fact that people notice when they enter a room full of psychology students: most of them are female. As a student yourself, if you’re a heterosexual female, you may have doubts about whether you’re going to find the love of your life in that room or not. On the opposite side, if you’re one of the three to ten men in the class, you’ll most likely be excited about this gender gap. All jokes and love interests aside, psychology is a field in which about 70% of master’s and doctoral students are female (National Science Foundation, 2016). Despite this over-representation of females in the classes, only a third of the professors are females and when women do decide to make a career in experimental psychology, they’re less published and cited than their male counterparts (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). 

A study analyzing records from 125 high-impact, peer-reviewed psychology journals, with the goal of determining how men and women contribute to research in psychology, showed that females are less cited and published than their male colleagues (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors were also interested in testing whether these gaps persist across factors such as authorship position and subdiscipline as well as in studying the evolution of these patterns between 2003 and 2019. Firstly, they found that this publication gap is pervasive but not identical across subfields. For example, Developmental and Health psychology show a smaller publication gap than Neurosciences. Furthermore, if this publication gap is more or less important across different fields in psychology, it is not the case for the citation gap. Indeed, publications by male researchers receive more citations than those made by females independently of the field (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors do not have an explanation for this but there is a hypothesis that the gap may be explained by the fact that men could tend to self-cite more than women (Larivière et al., 2013). Lastly, this publication gap seems to be evolving towards a more equal situation where women are better represented in some subdisciplines. This is not by any means perfect but it shows that psychology is not a stagnated science dominated by men and that on the contrary, women are now strongly represented in psychology faculties and early career positions (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). Even though these findings are interested, the authors accentuate the importance of conducting further research to explain why this gap exists and which are the factors contributing to its perpetration. They consider that the gaps may, for example, be explained by the hiring rates for men and women and journal policies.  In conclusion, there is a gender publication and citation gap that favors men and future research should be done in order to investigate which social, cultural and contextual factors contribute to these gaps.

Bibliography :
  • Larivière, V., Ni, C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science. Nature, 504, 211– 213.
  • National Science Foundation. (2016). Survey of earned doctorates (NSF No. 18–304). Retrieved from 18304/ 
  • Odic, D., & Wojcik, E. H. (2020). The publication gender gap in psychology. American Psychologist, 75(1), 92–103.
Featuring image :
  • Stancikatie, A. (2020). We Need to Close the Gender Data Gap By Including Women in Our Algorithms [Illustration]. TIME. Retrived from :

Author : Paula Morales