Assessing gender balance among journal authors and editorial board members


The study of journal authorship and editorial board membership from a gender perspective is addressed in this paper following international recommendations about the need to obtain science and technology indicators by gender. Authorship informs us about active scientists who contribute to the production and dissemination of new knowledge through journal articles, while editorial board membership tells us about leading scientists who have obtained scientific recognition within the scientific community. This study analyses by gender the composition of the editorial boards of 131 high-quality Spanish journals in all fields of science, the presence of men and women as authors in a selection of 36 journals, and the evolution of these aspects from 1998 to 2009. Female presence is lower than male presence in authorship, editorial board membership and editorship. The presence of female authors is slightly lower than the presence of women in the Spanish Higher Education sector and doubles female presence in editorial boards, which mirrors female presence in the highest academic rank. The gender gap tends to diminish over the years in most areas, especially in authorship and very slightly in editorial board membership. Large editorial boards and having a female editor-in-chief are positively correlated with women presence in editorial boards. The situation of women in Spanish science is further assessed in an international context analysing a selection of international reference journals. The usefulness of journal-based indicators to monitor the situation of men and women in science and to assess the success of policies oriented to enhance gender equality in science is finally discussed.

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  1. 1.

    Preliminary results presented at the “IX Congreso Iberoamericano de Ciencia, Tecnología y Género”, held in Seville (Spain), January 31–February 3 2012.

  2. 2.

    It includes all academic staff at the Higher Education Sector, either permanent or temporary.

  3. 3.

    Change over time of female contribution below 3 %.

  4. 4.

    Increase of female contribution above 5 %.

  5. 5.

    Decline of female contribution above 5 %.

  6. 6.

    As stated by Uzun (2004), the contribution of authors from different countries and the international composition of the editorial boards are strongly related factors which contribute to the internationalisation of journals.

  7. 7.

    To match our subject areas with those described in the statistics of the Spanish Higher Education Sector produced by the Spanish National Institute for Statistics (INE), the journals included in Biomedicine, Chemistry, Agriculture, Biology, Environmental Sciences and Mathematics were all grouped under the heading “Experimental Sciences”.


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We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CSO2008_03454-E). EM would also like to acknowledge a postdoctoral fellowship from FECYT (Spain). We are grateful to Laura Barrios and José Manuel Rojo for their advice in the statistical analysis of data. Our gratitude to the anonymous referee whose suggestions have been a major contribution to the improvement of the quality of our paper.

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Correspondence to María Bordons.


Appendix 1

See Table 7

Table 7 List of Spanish journals considered in the authorship analysis

Appendix 2

See Table 8

Table 8 List of Spanish and international benchmark journals

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Mauleón, E., Hillán, L., Moreno, L. et al. Assessing gender balance among journal authors and editorial board members. Scientometrics 95, 87–114 (2013).

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  • Scientific journals
  • Editorial boards
  • Women and science
  • Gender gap
  • Authorship