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(No) Gender balance in political science publishing?

My discipline – political science – is far away from gender balance, especially at the top where men still dominate professorships. My impression was that this is also true for (peer-reviewed) publications – and a first look into the reality of 50 different journals seems to confirm this: 66% out of 749 recent research articles in those journals have been authored by men alone or by a majority of male co-authors.


How did I get to these figures?

Last week, I published a list with links to political science journals, journals that I read and follow for a variety of reasons. From this list, I removed two purely network-analytic journals, leaving me with 50 journals in total to check them for gender balance.

Instead of looking in depth into each journal, I tried to get a snapshot of reality across all journals. I therefore looked through the last issue of 2014 of all of them. I counted the number of research articles and then the number of those articles which had been written by one female author alone or that had at least 50% female co-authors. Where there were less than 10 such articles in the last issue of 2014, I went through the previous issue(s) until at least 10 articles per journal were reached.

The result is visualised above, but you can see the details for each journal in the Google doc linked here:

The methods does not allow to have robust figures to compare the journals among themselves as there is only a limited number of cases per journal, and sometimes these cases are also from thematically-focused special issues.

Yet, the overall figures over a wide diversity of publications seem pretty clear:

  • Out of 749 articles counted, only 113 (~15%) were written by a single female author.
  • 131 (~17.5%) had at least 50% female co-authorship
  • With some unclear cases, this means that only 33.4% of 749 articles published in the last issue(s) of 2014 in 50 political science journals were written by women (or by a majority of women).

In other words: about 2/3 of all those articles counted were either written by one male author, several male authors, or a majority of male authors.

There may be a number of causes for this, from the fact that our discipline lacks in gender equality in general (i.e. that those figures simply represent the equality gap), to the way potential authors are encouraged to get published up until the review process itself.

The figures presented here are still quite ad hoc, but my guess is that any other way to count may not bring about a significantly different result.

If this is true, and those figures hold, the big question is: how can we as a deiscipline get to a point where political science as a social science reflects the share of women in society instead of reproducing inequalities that have persisted for far too long?

This text has been edited after publication.

4 Responses to (No) Gender balance in political science publishing?

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