Abstract

It is well-known that women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but the extent of this underrepresentation varies among STEM fields. Analyzing gender demographics of publications within a field is an effective means of quantifying representation because of the importance of publications to scientists' careers and to the scientific community. We created a data set consisting of all publications accessed with a database search on each taxonomic order of herpetofauna (Anura, Caudata, Gymnophiona, Testudines, Crocodylia, Rhynchocephalia, and Squamata) as well as squamate suborders (Amphisbaenia, Lacertilia, Serpentes) from 2010 to 2019, and another data set with all publications on Lacertilia and Serpentes from 1970 to 2019, and used these data sets to estimate the genders of authors. During the past decade, our estimates show that male authors outnumbered female authors 2.24:1, with especially low levels of authorship by females in studies on Gymnophiona, Crocodylia, and Squamata. However, female authorship increased steadily during the decade. While male first authors also outnumbered females 1.95:1, male last authors outnumbered females 3.30:1, and male sole authors outnumbered females 5.29:1. Papers with female first authors or last authors were more likely to have female coauthors than were papers with male first authors or last authors. Papers with female first authors were more likely to be cited than papers with male first authors, and papers with female last authors were less likely to be cited than those with male last authors. Finally, qualitative analysis of authorship estimates in studies on lizards and snakes over the past 50 yr show that female authors represented about 10–15% of authors from 1970 to 2000, followed by a rapid rise in female authorship over the past 20 yr to current rates of >30% female authorship. Our data suggest that the gender gap in herpetology, which has traditionally appeared to be a male-dominated field, is slowly narrowing.

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