Understanding gender equity in author order assignment

Academic success and promotion are heavily influenced by publication record. In many fields, including computer science, multi-author papers are the norm. Evidence from other fields shows that norms for ordering author names can influence the assignment of credit. We interviewed 38 students and faculty in human- computer interaction (HCI) and machine learning (ML) at two institutions to determine factors related to assignment of author order in collaborative publication in the field of computer science. We found that women were concerned with author order earlier in the process:

Our female interviews reported raising author order in discussion earlier in the process than men.

Interview outcomes informed metrics for our bibliometric analysis of gender and collaboration in papers published between 1996 and 2016 in three top HCI and ML conferences. We found expected results overall — being the most junior author increased the likelihood of first authorship, while being the most senior author increased the likelihood of last authorship. However, these effects disappeared or even reversed for women authors:

Comparison of regression weights for author rank (blue) with author rank crossed with gender (orange). Regression was predicting author position (first, middle, last)

Based on our findings, we make recommendations for assignment of credit in multi-author papers and interpretation of author order, particularly with respect to how these factors affect women.