DOI: 10.1111/soc4.13189 ISSN: 1751-9020

The gender citation gap: Approaches, explanations, and implications

Cary Wu
  • General Social Sciences


Do women face a disadvantage in terms of citation rates, and if so, in what ways? This article provides a comprehensive overview of existing research on the relationship between gender and citations. Three distinct approaches are identified: (1) per‐article approach that compares gender differences in citations between articles authored by men and women, (2) per‐author approach that compares the aggregate citation records of men and women scholars over a specified period or at the career level, and (3) reference‐ratio approach that assesses the gender distribution of references in articles written by men and women. I show that articles written by women receive comparable or even higher rates of citations than articles written by men. However, women tend to accumulate fewer citations over time and at the career level. Contrary to the notion that women are cited less per article due to gender‐based bias in research evaluation or citing behaviors, this study suggests that the primary reason for the lower citation rates at the author level is women publishing fewer articles over their careers. Understanding and addressing the gender citation gap at the author level should therefore focus on women's lower research productivity over time and the contributing factors. To conclude, I discuss the potential detrimental impact of lower citations on women's career progression and the ways to address the issue to mitigate gender inequalities in science.

More from our Archive