Despite much improvement over the past several decades, women continue to be underrepresented across many STEM fields. In this study, I draw upon past research to theorize that (1) there exist a substantial gender performance gap among STEM researchers and that (2) the gap is disproportionately larger among star performers, i.e., individuals who produce output many times greater than others holding the same job (Aguinis & O’Boyle, 2014). I then discuss how a gender performance gap specifically among star performers can be more harmful to the underrepresented group than an equivalent gap among average performers. To investigate the possible existence of such gender performance gaps, I assess the research productivity of all researchers in the fields of mathematics, materials sciences, and genetics who have published in the past decade at least one article in the most influential journals in their fields. Using the process of distribution pitting (Joo, Aguinis & Bradley, 2017), I identify the best-fitting theoretical distributions and associated dominant generative mechanisms that shape individual performance across the three STEM fields. Assessment of the shapes of the performance distributions confirms the existence of considerable gender performance gaps in favor of men, although the gap was substantially lower in the field of genetics compared to in the others. In addition, the findings suggest that (1) individual STEM researchers vary in performance predominantly due to differences in their accumulation rates (i.e., average output produced per time period), and (2) women’s research output accumulation rates are lower (on average) and also less variable compared to men’s. Implications for theory and practice based on these findings are discussed.
|Commitee:||Cohen, N. Andrew, Hill, N. Sharon, Wade, James B.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Gender performance gaps, Individual performance, Research productivity, Star performers, Stem performance, Women in stem fields|
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