Ph.D. research output in STEM: the role of gender and race in supervision

Giulia Rossello, Robin Cowan & Jacques Mairesse


We study whether student-advisor gender and race couples matter for publication productivity of Ph.D. students in South Africa. We consider the sample of all Ph.D.s in STEM graduating between 2000 and 2014, after the recent systematic introduction of doctoral programs in this country. We investigate the joint effects of gender and race for the whole sample and looking separately at the sub-samples of (1) whitewhite; (2) black-black; and (3) black-white student-advisor couples. We find early career productivity differences: while female students publish on average 10% to 20% fewer articles than males, this is true mainly for female students working with a male advisor, not for those working with a female one. These disparities are similar, though more pronounced, when looking at the joint effects of gender and race for the white-white and black-black student-advisor pairs. We also explore whether publication productivity differences change significantly for students with a high, medium, or low “productivity-profile”, and find that they are U-shaped. Female students with a high (or low) “productivity-profile” studying with female advisors are as productive than male students with a high (or low) “productivity-profile” studying with male advisors.

JEL Classification: A14, I23, I24, J15, J16, J24, O32.

Keywords: Gender and race, Student Advisor, South Africa, Doctoral research productivity, Role models