How balanced are your references? Celebrating women’s work using an automatic tool

When it comes to references in research, women are underrepresented and cited less often than men. If women would be cited equally, however, they would have a higher impact factor. How do you estimate how balanced your references are? It might be difficult to determine authors’ genders and it would be time consuming to manually count the male and female authors you cite.

This issue can be addressed by using the so called Gender Balance Assessment Tool (“GBAT”), which was created in 2018 by Ms Jane Lawrence Sumner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. GBAT aims to remedy the abovementioned gender gap in syllabi and reference lists.

GBAT can also assist in balancing diversity in literature lists. For example, if a university professor assigns a literature list to their students, the professor can use GBAT to assess the diversity percentage of the literature list and to create a balance between male and female authors. If students are exposed to (or have exposure to) more gender balanced literature, then they will subconsciously consider it normal that many women are good scientists.

The tool uses a gender prediction algorithm to assess the gender balance of your references. You can upload any reference list into the GBAT and it will automatically evaluate the potential gender of a name and will determine the chance that a name is either male or female (please note that the tool only works with full given names and not, for example, with initials). This assessment results in a total estimated percentage of female authors in your reference list or syllabus.

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