Gender bias in peer review

Introduction and Background

The issue of gender bias in peer review, particularly within the social sciences, is explored in this article by Alex Holmes and Sally Hardy. The study, conducted by the Regional Studies Association, aims to investigate the impact of gender on peer review outcomes, focusing on the journal Regional Studies. The authors highlight the significance of International Women’s Day (IWD) as a backdrop for their research, emphasizing the global call for gender parity and equality. The Regional Studies Association, with its commitment to diversity and inclusivity, undertakes a focused examination of gender patterns in research submissions to address documented gender imbalances in academic publishing.

Research Methodology and Findings

The study, based on data from the journal Regional Studies between 2011 and 2016, utilized to assign genders to authors and reviewers. The results reveal that a higher percentage of manuscripts were submitted by male authors compared to female authors, with a consistent ratio across various definitions. Additionally, papers with all-female authors were significantly fewer than those with all-male authors, indicating an existing gender disparity in submissions. The analysis further extends to the acceptance and rejection rates, showcasing nuanced differences. While a slightly lower proportion of papers with female corresponding authors were accepted compared to their male counterparts, the difference is not as pronounced as initial data might suggest.

Exploring Factors and Implications

The authors delve into potential influencing factors contributing to the observed gender patterns in submissions and peer review outcomes. They speculate on factors such as the career stage of contributors, geographic location of PhD institutions, and language proficiency as possible contributors to disparities. The discussion also touches on the demographic composition of the Regional Studies Association's membership, indicating a gender skew toward males, particularly in senior positions. The authors acknowledge the limitations of their initial analysis and express a commitment to exploring additional factors in the next stage of the project.

Future Directions and Acknowledgments

The article concludes by outlining the authors' plans for the next phase of the research, aiming to delve deeper into the data and address unanswered questions related to seniority, geographic location, and language proficiency. The ongoing analysis is positioned as crucial for informing policies aimed at achieving gender parity in journal processes and within the Regional Studies Association community. The authors express gratitude to the research team at Taylor & Francis, as well as editorial teams and board members, for their contributions to the data extraction, analysis, and interpretation. The acknowledgment emphasizes the collaborative nature of the research and the importance of collective efforts in addressing gender bias in academic publishing.

This summary encapsulates the key elements of the article, providing an overview of the research methodology, findings, exploration of influencing factors, and future directions.

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The London School of Economics and Political Science


Alex Holmes and Sally Hardy