|Albeit the achieved progresses towards gender equality in research and innovation during the past few years, a range of gender differences and inequalities persist. For example, women continue to be underrepresented in science and technology, and research in general. This imbalance is also reflected in dissemination. In a large-scale study of more than 5.4 million research papers with more than 27 million authorships, the authors found that women represent fewer than 30% of authorships. This is a worldwide phenomenon, as men dominate authorship in all but a few countries. When it comes to first authorship, men are twice as likely to be first author as women.|
In OpenUP, we have adapted the definition of gender from the European Commission’s Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research to include non-binary identities:
Gender refers to the social construction of women and men, of femininity and masculinity, which varies in time and place, and between cultures. It is not binary (male or female) but also includes other gender identities. The notion of gender appeared in the seventies and was put forward by feminist theorists who challenged the secondary position of women in society. It departs from the notion of sex to signal that biology or anatomy is not a destiny.
We identified four relevant gender aspects that we have analysed in context of our innovative dissemination case studies. We recommend checking these four aspects when considering one’s research dissemination strategy or plan.
- Gender distribution within the team responsible for research and dissemination. This refers to the point made above that a range of gender differences and inequalities persist in research and innovation. For guidelines and checklists regarding this topic, please refer to the European Commission’s Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research.
- Representation of gender in the disseminated materials (including gender-sensitivity and inclusiveness). Gender stereotyping is a topic that has mostly been studied in research on textbooks but has also been analysed and identified in academic writing (see e.g. Martin 1991). For guidelines and checklists regarding this topic, please refer to the European Commission’s Toolkit Gender in EU-funded research.
- Gender sensitivity and inclusiveness of dissemination tools and platforms. There are indications from smaller-scale studies that male domination in traditional publishing carries over to certain innovative dissemination channels. In a study of the aggregator of scientific blogs, ResearchBlogging.org, Shema et al. (2012) found that 72% of the 126 blogs analysed had only male authors. Mikki et al. (2015) investigated the digital presence of Norwegian scholars and found that women were underrepresented in a number of services such as ORCiD and Google Scholar Profiles - with the exception were Academia.edu and ResearchGate, where the share of women was comparable to the share of male researchers in the sample.
- Gender aspects of the target audience, i.e. their gender distribution and any relevant gender-sensitive aspects in that regard. One example is the information-seeking behaviour of target audiences, which is studied particularly in medicine; examples are gender differences observed in patients (Carpenter et al. 2012) and general practitioners (Le 2016). For example, Carpenter et al. report that female patients with a rare illness were more likely to use the Internet as information source than their male counterparts.