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Explaining gender differences in doctoral students’ performance and early career development in Sweden: A longitudinal and comparative study

Research project Despite increasing female representation in the Swedish higher education system and increasing importance of gender equality in governmental policy, females continue to publish less and have poorer career development than males.

The purpose of this project is to explain gender differences in doctoral students’ research performance and early career development in Sweden.

Head of project

Jonas Lindahl
Associate professor (on leave), associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2022-01-01 2023-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Sociology

Research area


External funding


Project description

Gender differences in research productivity begin already during doctoral studies. Consequently, females enter their careers with a disadvantage since peer-reviewed publications are important in the competition for funding and employment. Even small initial differences tend to cumulate over time and negatively affects females careers.

The most plausible explanations for these gender differences early in the career, are related to females having more career interruptions than males, e.g., pregnancy, care responsibilities, health problems, and part time work. However, few studies have been able to fully examine this line of explanations. In this project I will examine these issues by constructing an internationally unique dataset based on micro data from Statistics Sweden and publication-based data from Swedish repositories for research publications. This rich dataset enables a design that is largely missing in previous research: A large-scale quantitative design where it is possible to determine the relative importance of most factors that are known to have an effect on gender differences, and their relationships.

External funding