Gender differences in research performance within and between countries: Italy vs Norway

Giovanni Abramo, Dag W. Aksnes, Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo

In this study, the scientific performance of Italian and Norwegian university professors is analysed using bibliometric indicators. The study is based on over 36,000 individuals and their publication output during the period 2011-2015. Applying a multidimensional indicator in which several aspects of the research performance are captured, we find large differences in the performance of men and women. These gender differences are evident across all analysed levels, such as country, field, and academic position. However, most of the gender differences can be explained by the tails of the distributions-in particular, there is a much higher proportion of men among the top 10% performing scientists. For the remaining 90% of the population, the gender differences are practically non-existent. The results of the two countries, which differ in terms of the societal role of women, are contrasting. Further, we discuss possible biases that are intrinsic in quantitative performance indicators, which might disfavour female researchers.

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