Women Make Up a Tiny Percentage of Editors of Scientific Journals

A new study led by researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi examined the gender disparity in the makeup of editorial boards of scientific journals. The researchers used algorithmic tools to infer the gender of 81,000 editors serving more than 1,000 journals and 15 disciplines over five decades. The results show that only 14 percent of the editors were women. Only 8 percent of editors-in-chief were women.

Since scientific editors shape the content of academic journals and set standards for their fields, gender disparity can influence opportunities for women to publish in these journals, receive recognition for their research, and advance their careers.

“The editors of scientific journals hold tremendous power in their fields, directly influencing what research – and which researchers – are elevated. Unfortunately, not all scientists have an equal opportunity to hold these positions. Our study shows that, despite efforts to increase the representation of women in all aspects of the scientific workforce, including editorial leadership positions in journals, it is clear that women are still significantly underrepresented in positions of power,” said Talal Rahwan, an associate professor of computer science at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Bedoor AlShebli, an assistant professor of computational social science at the university, added that “this study also indicates the systematic prevalence of non-meritocratic factors in selecting editors-in-chief that work against women. Our findings align with past findings that women face additional obstacles in being recognized as elite scientists in their respective disciplines. Future research will be necessary to further pinpoint the underlying mechanisms behind these findings, with the goal of contributing to a fairer, more transparent, and more inclusive culture of scientific editorship.”

The study, “Gender Inequality and Self-Publication Are Common Among Academic Editors,” was published on the website of the journal Nature Human Behaviour. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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