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Do women do better than men as professors in Clinical Psychology?

In Clinical Psychology, professors that are men tend to publish more papers and tend to have more impact on the field. This is, of course, defined somewhat arbitrarily by a thing called h-index (basically just a measure to see how many people are referencing your work; more info on what I mean here in this write-up), but the point remains that men get their work out there more frequently, and people tend to build off of that work more often.

Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in. This happens to men more and particularly at higher levels in academia.

Now, I want you to ask yourself, why? Why does this happen?

In any answer, there may be truth, and I would be curious to hear what truth lies in your perspective.

Is it because of barriers inherent in the system?

Is it because of gatekeeping at the higher levels of academia?

Is it because men and women choose different topics to study, some of which lend itself to more difficult study designs and longer times to collect and analyze data?

Is it that men simply are better writers and more intelligent?

Is it that people may see a man’s name and automatically place more credibility and less critical judgment?

Is it that women take more time with their work, making for more quality work than quantity?

Are the priorities different between men and women such that men get to and want to spend more time on papers whereas women are spending more time on other duties such as mentoring?

Is there a difference in the amount of time devoted to family and children between genders?

Do women have to not only work, but also face harassment, decreasing the amount of mental energy leftover to do academic work?

Is there more support for one gender over another in society to pursue certain jobs and milestones within those jobs?

Are women more stigmatized for pursuing a professional life?

And there are perhaps many other questions to pose.

Whatever the reason is, this is the fact.

Still don’t believe me? Well, I don’t know what to tell you. This is literally the case with undeniable evidence. The only thing that there is left to be figured out is what are the reasons for why this indisputable phenomenon in our society happens.

And there are likely many reasons. And from person to person, situation to situation, university to university, it likely differs to some degree in its reasoning. Yet, I do also believe there are likely common factors regardless of the uniqueness of each situation.

In time we will see exactly how we ended here. Hopefully that time comes sooner than later because the sooner we have evidence of the reasons for why this happens, the sooner we can address them directly.

There will be push-back. There will even be research that shows there are no differences, no disparities, no inequalities. They may be just as true as this finding (which like, I mean, come on, this is very hard to argue with on the facts presented here. The researchers literally looked at ALL universities). What do we do with that information?

It all has a place and I hope that as this discussion and future discussions occur, you stay alert and critically-minded through it all. For as much as I may temper my enthusiasm for academia and its research, the other fact is that it impacts not only the researchers but all of us who will eventually be subject to the consequences of their research. At the end of the day, who do we want representing us, our needs, and giving potential solutions?

There is no right answer, but there are certainly many viewpoints for us to consider.

Until the next consideration.


Citation: White, S. W., Xia, M., & Edwards, G. (2021). Race, gender, and scholarly impact: Disparities for women and faculty of color in clinical psychology. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 77(1), 78-89.

PS This article I am referencing also talks about the differences in scholarship depending on race/ethnicity. We similar patterns such that the dominant race tends to publish more and have more impact. Similar questions arise. But there are also many other considerations about the research itself and potential implications for society here that warrant a separate post.

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