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Free Content Fewer than three percent of land plant species named by women: Author gender over 260 years

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How has women's contribution to science developed over multiple generations? We present the first quantitative analysis of the role played by women in publishing botanical species names, and the first complete analysis of women's contribution to a field of science with a timeframe of more than 260 years. The International Plant Names Index and The Plant List were used to analyse the contribution of female authors to the publication of land plant species names. Authors of land plant species were automatically assigned as male or female using Wikipedia articles and manual research. Female authors make up 12.20% of the total number of authors, and they published 2.82% of names. Half of the female authors published 1.5 or more names, while half the male authors published 3 or more names. Female contribution has accounted for more than 1% of new species names since 1900, and now stands at 11.97%. The difference in productivity between male and female authors has declined over time, and female authors are now 80% as productive as their male counterparts. In spite of botany's traditional image as a feminine pursuit, women's contribution was not significantly reflected in species authorship until the twentieth century, around the same time as in other branches of science.

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Keywords: BIODIVERSITY INVENTORY; BOTANY; HISTORY OF SCIENCE; NEW SPECIES; NOMENCLATURE; WOMEN IN SCIENCE

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, U.K. 2: 79B Mill Street, Oxford, OX2 0AL, U.K. 3: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, U.K.;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 05 May 2015

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