Call it male fraud.
A new study in the online academic journal mBio reports that male college faculty members were responsible for 88% of documented cases of research misconduct in biology studies by university professors, upending expectations that women would make up a quarter of the cases based on workforce demographics.
The study, “Males are overrepresented among life science researchers committing scientific misconduct,” examined 215 cases of fraud in scientific papers reported by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity between 1994 and 2012. The statistics examined misconduct by several types of researchers, from professors to postdoc fellows to students—and found men were overrepresented in each category.
But the gender disparity was greatest among cheating college professors, of whom only nine were female and 63 were male.
Senior study author Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and editor-in-chief of mBio, in a news release aired some speculation about his theories for the reported male dominance.
“As research has shown, males tend to be risk-takers, more so than females, and to commit fraud entails taking a risk,” he says. “It may also be that males are more competitive, or that women are more sensitive to the threat of sanctions. I think the best answer is that we don't know.”
Casadevall suggested the need for more research to understand the gender difference in an “effort to promote the integrity of research.”
Hey, if a research study can help plumb the mysterious divide between the sexes, Outliers is all for it.