Gender & Early Career Researcher REF gaps

  • word map around research and REF

In the last Research Exercise Framework (REF2014) 29-30% of men achieved 4* outputs, compared to only 13-14% of women submitted to the REF, across a wide range of units of assessment (UoA)

Image credit: KA240 wordpress blog

Men in psychology, economics and biology are so good at research that 29-30% achieved 4* outputs in the last Research Exercise Framework (REF). Women in theology; anthropology & development studies; sociology; aeronautical, mechanical, chemical and manufacturing engineering; civil and construction engineering; agriculture, veterinary and food science (and men in art & design) are perhaps not so impressive: only 13-14% achieved 4* outputs in these units of assessment (UoA). Overall, 22% of men and 19% of women submitted to the REF produced 4* outputs. These apparent differences in purported research quality were highlighted in Supplementary Report II (Correlation Analysis of REF2014 Scores and Metrics) accompanying the recent metrics review by HEFCE (The Metric Tide).

Table B4 on page 75 of the supplementary report sets out a summary of submitting authors by unit of assessment, gender and whether or not they were an early career researcher (ECR)**. We then used this summary to produce a scatter plot (Fig.1) that shows the gender and ECR gaps in achieving 4* research. Read the blog.

Figure 1: Gender & ECR gaps by Unit of Assessment

Project Team


Prof Steve McKay    Dr Frances Amery1   Dr Stephen Bates2

1. Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, University of Bath     

2. Department of Political Science & International Studies, University of Birmingham