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Wednesday, July 13 • 15:31 - 17:00
Is the gender gap in science mirrored in altmetrics?

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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  • Stefanie Haustein, University of Montreal, Canada
  • Adèle Paul-Hus, University of Montreal, Canada
  • Cassidy Sugimoto, Indiana University Bloomington, United States
  • Vincent Larivière, EBSI-UdeM, Canada


The gender gap in science has been subject of many recent discussions and analyses. Female authors have been shown to be less productive and have less impact as reflected in the number of papers and citations (Larivière, Ni, Gingras, Cronin, & Sugimoto, 2013). However, the landscape of research dissemination and impact is changing, with the adoption of social media by scholars and the use of “altmetrics” in research evaluation. It therefore begs the question on the extent to which this new environment replicates the gender disparities observed in the old (Paul-Hus, Sugimoto, Haustein, & Larivière, 2015). Internet technologies are promoted for their ability to democratize and flatten traditional hierarchies and women indeed show a slightly higher level of participation on social networking sites (Perrin, 2015). This suggests that measures of visibility based on social media may achieve greater gender parity than citation-based impact measures.


Based on the social media activity of 769,695 journal articles covered by the Web of Science (WoS), this study aims to compare the amount of attention papers first-authored by male and female researchers receive via Mendeley, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Wikipedia and to analyze any potential differences by platform and discipline.


Gender was determined for the first authors of 769,695 articles and reviews published in 2013 in journals covered by WoS using the method developed by Larivière et al. (2013). For each of these papers, the number of unique Twitter users, public Facebook posts, blog posts, and Wikipedia entries were obtained from Altmetric.com and the number of readership counts retrieved via the Mendeley API using DOIs. Social media events were matched to the bibliographic and citation information from WoS and analyzed by gender and discipline. Results were compared using density, coverage, and 99th percentiles of particular events (Haustein, Costas, & Larivière, 2015). Stability intervals based on 95% confidence intervals of bootstraps (1,000 replications with replacement) were computed for each indicator to test the significance of gender differences.


The number of papers led by female (n=269,054) compared to male first authors (n=500,641) replicates the well-established gender gap. Scientific impact reflects the same pattern, as relative citation rates of papers with male exceed those of papers with female first authors in all disciplines. The results for social media visibility differ by social media platform, discipline, and indicator. Based on coverage–i.e., the percentage of papers with at least one social media event—most differences between female and male papers are small and not significant (Figure 1). Among significant results, male papers are more likely to be cited on Wikipedia or blogs, while Mendeley tends to show higher coverage for papers first-authored by women. Twitter and Facebook coverage varies according to discipline.

Future Work: 

As social media events per paper are extremely skewed and results differed between coverage, density, and 99th percentile, future work involves a more detailed analysis of the particular distributions using percentile ranks.



Haustein, S., Costas, R., & Larivière, V. (2015). Characterizing social media metrics of scholarly papers: The effect of document properties and collaboration patterns. PLoS ONE, 10(3), e0120495. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0120495

Larivière, V., Ni, C. C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Global gender disparities in science. Nature, 504(7479), 211–213.

Paul-Hus, A., Sugimoto, C. R., Haustein, S., & Larivière, V. (2015). Is there a gender gap in social media metrics? (pp. 37–45). Presented at the 15th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, Istanbul, Turkey. Retrieved from http://www.issi2015.org/files/downloads/all-papers/0037.pdf

Perrin, A. (2015). Social Networking Usage: 2005-2015. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/08/2015/Social-Networking-Usage-2005-2015/

Wednesday July 13, 2016 15:31 - 17:00 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2