Since women only got into research much later, they are mostly forgotten in scientific work. The consequences of this can be severe: increased dropout rates, less diversity, inclusion and innovation.

Men benefit more than women in physics from a phenomenon called the “pioneer advantage.” Hyunsik Kong, Samuel Martin-Gutierrez and Fariba Karimi from the Complexity Science Hub Vienna come to this conclusion after analyzing thousands of publications from more than 100 years.

“Our results suggest that the pioneer advantage plays a critical role in how gender differences in perceptions of research emerge in the physics community,” they write in the journal Communications Physics.

The first person to publish research on a topic tends to be cited significantly more often by other researchers than people who later publish on the same topic. However, men have a cumulative historical advantage, as women are more gradual and significantly slower in entering physics.

Such distortions contribute to making women and other underrepresented groups feel invisible and ignored in a male-dominated environment.

The feeling of not being part of the community can lead to an increased dropout rate. This in turn has other negative effects in the long term, as there is a lack of diversity, integration, innovation and, above all, role models.

“Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for society to recognize these prejudices and to develop bottom-up approaches to combat them,” the authors of the study demand.

To examine the Pioneer Advantage, the group paired research papers covering similar topics that were published within a few years; in each pair, once a man was the first author, once a woman.

The team then counted the number of citations each paper received over time. When women were the first to publish on a topic, they tended to be cited less often than their male counterparts.

“This can lead to women’s work being overlooked, reducing their chances of success in the field,” Kong and colleagues conclude.

“These distortions should be eliminated as quickly as possible by promoting the participation of women and other minorities in research work in a targeted and sustainable manner.”

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The original of this article “Men benefit more from the pioneering advantage than women” comes from