Publish or Perish

Updated: Oct 17, 2020




Research conducted by economist Heather Sarsons found that although women economics professors publish as many papers as men, they are less likely to be granted tenure, even after the quality of the work is factored in, if they collaborate with other researchers. Sarsons found that “women who solo author everything have roughly the same chance of receiving tenure as a man.” This is because it is clear who did the work. For every additional solo paper the female economist writes, her chances of getting tenure increase by 8- 9%. But if a woman collaborates with a man, her chances of getting tenure remain the same. Justin Wolfers, a reporter for the New York Times explains: “That is, women get essentially zero credit for the collaborative work with men.” In contrast, men get as much credit for collaborative work as they get for solo papers, regardless of whether they collaborate with a woman or a man. This is a particular problem for women economists because most research in that field is collaborative. Sarsons believes that her research may explain why female economists are two times as likely to be denied tenure as men.


“That is, women get essentially zero credit for the collaborative work with men.”

The same does not hold true for sociology articles, where common practice is to list the authors in the order of their contributions. (Economists typically list authors alphabetically.



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