Recent interrogations in the humanities and social sciences have rightly called attention to the ways in which the academy’s main measures of esteem and success contribute to structural inequalities. Holger and Gross (2009: 107) note the impact of scholarship published in journals on careers by arguing that “advancement, and reputation in the university setting have traditionally depended on a scholar’s work as judged by his or her colleagues”. Consistently, however, women are shown to bear the brunt of these inequalities—from grant capture (see for example Bornmann et al. 2007) to promotions (Pyke 2011; Hanretty 2021), teaching evaluations (Mengel et al. 2019; Boring et al. 2016) and in publishing. Many studies conducted in the last decade have reinforced the myriad of ways women continue to be excluded in scholarly publishing within political science/international relations (see for instance Østby et al., 2013; Maliniak et al. 2013; symposium in PS: Political Science & Politics Vol 51 No. 4, 2018; Breuning and Sanders 2007; Teele and Thelen 2017; Closa et al. 2020; Grossman 2020; Stockemer et al. 2020).

Journals, the main means of publishing and disseminating key productive activities, research, thus manifest the same inequalities we find in other areas of the academy. Not only do journals continue to play a role in marginalizing minoritized groups, including women, and people of colour, within the academy, but this marginalization also has broader impacts on the scope of knowledge production. Journal business is gendered, meaning that the

sociocultural and economic concept [of gender with the] institutionalised system of social practices … translates into different experiences and uneven advantages for men and women at the individual, organisational, and societal levels [constituting a] system [that] manifests as the persistent gender pay gap, endemic sexual harassment, and the proverbial glass ceiling limiting women's representation and advancement in social and economic life including academic publishing. (Lundine et al. 2018)

This article explores the gendered impacts of knowledge production via a reflection on the content of, and participation in, the oldest academic journal for studies on Europe. The article draws on six decades of publishing JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies to review the interdisciplinary development of European studies and its gendered implications.

Thus far, much has been written about who submits, who is rejected and who reviews (e.g. Breuning, et al. 2018; Nedal and Nexon 2018; Wold and Wenneras 2010); ultimately, however, it is the outcomes of these different processes that matter—who gets to be published at all. Why? Because this also tells us about what gets published since this contributes to knowledge making or what is known and worth knowing about European studies. So, our interest here is as much a reflection on the gender of who gets to be published in our journal over the last six decades, and the gendered hierarchical relationships that determine knowledge production. In other words, who gets to produce knowledge about Europe? The article will proceed as follows: first, we present a short history of the journal that takes into account the evolution of European studies thematically and across a range of editorial tenureships. Second, the article presents the data gathered so far around gender as an addition to recent works on this theme. We additionally argue that the gendered patterns in participation have implications for knowledge production, replicating the hierarchical relations in the academy and with implications for so-called diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) practices. Third, we reflect on our own practices and interventions to promote greater attention to DEI and conclude by highlighting ongoing challenges to fully realizing our ambitions for change.

Gender, representation and gendered knowledge production

As the journal heads into its seventh decade, there is no better time to take stock of its history and its role in transforming and shaping studies in European politics broadly defined. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies was founded in 1962 by Uwe Kitzinger to focus on the integration process within Europe and the functioning of its many institutions. Though open to interdisciplinary research and insights from the outset, its subjects and the expertise of the founding editor centred on political science, international relations and international political economy. The “international” focus created space for the interrogation of integration in other contexts while also highlighting a foreign policy dimension of the common market very early on. Balogh’s article in the first issue of the journal is evidence of this as it dealt with the relationship of the common market with Africa (Balogh 1962). Over the years JCMS has, on the one hand, broadened its disciplinary foci, publishing more in economics (where it is also ranked), law, sociology and anthropology among others. Indeed, the heterogeneity of disciplines that feature has gone a long way to break disciplinary boundaries in the work that is published as European studies. On the other hand, the journal has also contributed to reinforcing paradigms and certain paths within those original disciplines. This sometimes gives the appearance of moving away from the original intent—a journal of common market studies wherever they may exist. It is worth noting, however, that since the 2010s there has been an explicit (re)embrace of the “common market” origins of the journal, with an additional emphasis on comparative regionalism (Lombaerde 2011; Murau and Spandler 2016; Fioramonti and Mattheis 2016). This emphasis allows for comparisons between the European Union (EU) and other common markets, but one that also draws out how practices in other regional contexts have implications for the EU.

In its almost 60 years, JCMS has had a significant impact on what we know about the politics of Europe, though it is not solely a journal about the political science of Europe. Indeed, what and how we know about subjects is a central domain of journals and those who curate that knowledge. Consequently, in exploring how academic publishing is gendered, gendered knowledge making ought to be of concern and the role of editors in this process is especially important. Stewart and Valian (2018) show clearly that diversity in editorial boards has an impact of what counts as important, while Fox et al (2019: 13,637) note that,

poor representation of women among the scientific gatekeepers is likely to reduce the diversity of ideas, perspectives, and values that make it to print: increased representation of women might change which types of manuscripts are accepted for publication, which areas are identified as worthy of invited reviews.

At JCMS, no women took on the main editorship of the journal until 2010–48 years after its founding. That is to say for almost five decades, men called the shots about who published and what counted as knowledge. It is, of course, possible for men to promote equality and seek to break down existing hierarchies in academic publishing. Yet, the limited research on the implications of masculinized editorial boards suggests that the underrepresentation of women in this space also has the knock-on effect of underrepresenting women’s work in journals (Metz and Harzing 2009; Fox et al. 2019; Lerchenmüller et al. 2021).

For example, in the first four decades of JCMS, work that was explicitly feminist was mainly absent from the journalFootnote 1 and when present had been advanced mainly by women. This example suggests that women, and work produced by women, have been excluded from the knowledge production, even though anecdotal observations would suggest an increase in women’s entry into the field.

In six decades, however, JCMS has been associated with leading important debates and breaking new theoretical ground for approaches that are now considered integral to the political studies of the European Union. For example, Andrew Moravcsik’s Preferences and Power in the European Community: A Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach (1993) and Ian Manners’ article, Normative Power Europe: a Contradiction in Terms? (2002) are two of the most cited articles in EU studies, where the two authors introduce the approaches of Liberal Intergovernmentalism and Normative Power Europe, respectively. Indeed, the top-five most cited articles are by men.

Importantly, and in seeking to understand gender performance within the journal, we provide evidence for why in our intervention as editors, it not enough to simply desire an increase in descriptive representation, rather it is important too that we pay attention to the broader implications of absences and indeed what is silenced. A core assumption then, in the process of data collation, is that editors past and present play an important role in gendered knowledge production and this is much less acknowledged than the observations around equity.

So, what is the data telling us…really?

For this article, we have sought to gather longitudinal data on who participates in JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies via authorship and reviewing. While the current editorial team was interested in broader categories of inequalities, and the ways in which they contribute to the systemic underrepresentation of minoritized groups within this academy, we have only been able to gather data based on gender men/women. Data collection and analysis was carried out with a view to reflect upon who gets to participate in a well-regarded and longstanding academic journal. This has implications not only for DEI efforts but also the gendered nature of knowledge production in the field. Data for the research were gathered by means of administrative access to ScholarOne, our manuscript management system database and Wiley Online Library archive which allows us to access authors from JCMS’ inception. The use of Wiley Online Library was essential for data gathering since self-declaration of gender was only instituted by the journal in 2018.

The Wiley Online Library archive includes all volumes of the articles published in the core journal, the Annual Review supplement, and the book reviews. From the archive, basic author information like author first names helped to determine gender particularly from 1962 to 2008 (those outside the ScholarOne system). Where there is ambiguity about names, this was cross-checked against institutional websites paying attention to pronouns used in author’s biographies. Where we were unable to ascertain gender based on these cross-checks, these were coded as “not found”. The “not found” categorization follows from the current ScholarOne categories, which include those who prefer not to identify within the binaries as male/female or men/women. It is important to note that this approach, though conforming to how the journal currently collects data and how the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA), UK, currently displays gender data, is not ideal. It is a useful shorthand for collecting data about the gender of journal participants. Yet, approaching inquiries about gendered knowledge production in this way can reinforce the gender binary contributing to the erasure of gender non-conforming scholars’ participation in academic publishing (see the point made by Heath-Kelly 2021). While the proportion of those coded as “not found” had no significance on the percentage of representation, it is, nevertheless, necessary to note that the data can be read as somewhat partial insofar as it does not capture those who are outside the typical gender binaries. For our purposes we focused on corresponding authors only, in those articles that had more than one author. Further, collating the data in this way excluded those who since July 2017 identified as non-binary. In Fig. 1, we represent the pattern of contributors as corresponding authors in JCMS between 1962 and 2020.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Gender of corresponding authors based on manuscript submissions 1962–2020

From the 1960s to the mid-1990s, we found that women’s participation in the journal in terms of authorship was significantly lower in comparison to men. This period included several all-male issues. Some of these issues included articles from key figures in European integration like Jean Monnet (Volume 1 Issue 3, 1962). From 2000 onwards, and especially after 2004, women increasingly contributed to the journal as corresponding authors. This period that saw an increase in women’s authorship has coincided with the appointment of women on the editorial core team of the journal (2010—present). It is worth noting, however, that in the same period men’s contributions have also increased as corresponding authors create a seemingly increased gender gap that has mainly favoured men. Yet, since 2017, we have found that women are represented as authors at the same rates as they submit work to the journal (approximately 38%).Footnote 2 The patterns in JCMS appear to follow the same patterns as many political science and international relations journals in that there is no parity. Men are overrepresented as knowledge producers in JCMS, publishing on a variety of themes. These themes and who gets to publish on them underscore the masculinized nature of political science (and apparently European studies) as a discipline (Celis et al. 2013).

Beyond the gender gap that exists in terms of participation through publishing/authorship, there are other ways in which inequalities are reproduced in the publishing process. Some of the literature on gender gaps in journals has shown that the review process can reproduce inequalities in journal publishing. There is, however, no consensus. For instance, Fox et al (2016) argue that “lack of diversity on editorial boards might generate disparities in editorial and peer review that contribute to gender gaps”. Lloyd’s earlier study has shown that female reviewers accepted more female-authored manuscripts while male reviewers tended to review female-authored manuscripts less favourably (Lloyd 1990; Fox and Paine 2019).

Data on reviewers who participated in the JCMS was sourced from the ScholarOne database. This data, however, only goes as far back as 2008, and until 2018, excluded those reviewers assigned to review original symposium articles which were reviewed outside of ScholarOne. In Fig. 2, we represent the pattern of participation of male and female reviewers in a bar chart. Similar to the pattern of contributors, while female participation in the review process increased markedly in some years, it is still the case that more women review for the journal. This data focuses on those who reviewed rather than those who were invited to review.

Fig. 2
figure 2

Reviewers’ gender across JCMS 2008–2020

ScholarOne, however, also gives us the opportunity to evaluate who is invited to review not just who accepts since 2008. Figure 3 illustrates that since 2010, more women have been invited to review in the journal coinciding with the first appointment of a joint team of women as editors. The gap between inviting men and women, however, only started to close around 2017 to coincide with an explicit journal mandate for more diversity, equality and inclusion in journal activities. There are three different categories of those who choose not to participate in the review process: “declined”, “unavailable” or “uninvited”. This data, represented in Table 1, allows us an in-depth picture of the pattern of participation in the review process.

Fig. 3
figure 3

Gender breakdown of the total invited to review for JCMS 2008–2020

Table 1 JCMS pattern of participation—reviewers invited who were unavailable, uninvited or declined to participate (male: female)

By calling attention to particular modes of non-participation, this data may help to illuminate the extent to which structural barriers contribute to keeping women out. For example, one of the most interesting distinctions we found here is between the ratios of “declined” and “unavailable”. The average ratio of those who declined to review is 4:1 (men/women), whereas the average ratio for unavailable is 2:1 (men/women). Thus, male scholars are four times more likely to simply decline an offer to review, whereas the category of unavailable may suggest competing priorities that do not allow for women’s participation. It is important to note that this is not an exert science since it is possible that reviewers do not distinguish between the two categories. What is interesting is that since 2017 (the Haastrup–Whitman led editorial term), the gaps in the decline/uninvited rate between men and women have decreased. This is partly due to the increase in invitations of more women. Another explanation, however, may be that the broadening of subject matter within the journal has allowed for the greater participation of women.

Men are more likely to be uninvited by editors usually due to conflicts of interests. We interpret this as reinforcing the fact that scholarly networks are dominated by men. In the context of this journal, until about five years ago, men dominated the reviewer pool, although there is an increase in women being asked to review.

Reflecting on the gendered implications of participation in publishing

We value the work on journals that has supported what we have known anecdotally that all things considered, women still face a measure of exclusion from the academy. Although we have gone looking for this data half-way towards the end of our five-year term as editors, we were unsurprised by the broader findings from JCMS. We have collated data specifically related to gender although we acknowledge that this is only one measure of the social inequalities that are reflected in academic publishing (see for example, Akers et al. 2021).

Collating data in the way that we have, however, has limits. Such data cannot capture the underlying ideologies that foster inequality. Feminist scholars, for example, drawing on intersectional analysis, not only explore the gender gaps in publishing but how the multiple axes of oppression like racism, ageism and ableism can often coalesce with sexism to reproduce and uphold these inequalities (Guerrina et al. 2018; Medie and Kang 2018). As a statement of fact then, this approach and the focus on gender representation are not expansive enough to encompass the broader functioning of inequalities via publication. At this stage, the sole focus on representation often only tells us what we know already; or at best and as we show, chart changes in representation.

When we (Haastrup–Whitman) were appointed to the roles of Editors in Chief of JCMS, we took our responsibility to our community seriously, especially to the co-owner of the journal and European studies professional association—the University Association of Contemporary European Studies (UACES). While the ambitions for a more inclusive field preceded our appointment, UACES shared our vision to challenge barriers to access and hierarchies in knowledge production. We considered in our application, for example, who belongs and who can belong in the field in terms of gender, geographical representation, race and ethnicity, the subject theme as well as career stage. We modelled our aspirations by changing the editorial model of JCMS that has typically been one or two editors to a gender equal team of six regionally dispersed editors (Africa, Australasia, Europe and North America,) with expertise in international studies, political science, political economy and law with Haastrup–Whitman as leads.

We have further sought to enact other interventions to engender the holistic substantive representation and inclusion that we envisioned. For instance, attending Meet the Editors panels and taking time to speak to early career researchers have meant that on a purely anecdotal level, we are increasingly seeing more submissions from late-stage PhD students. Further, we made the commitment to ban all-male issues and ensure that at least 30% of contributors to any one issue are women. By participating in Meet the Editor panels, we send the message through that JCMS remains interdisciplinary and heterodox. This has allowed for new themes to emerge, including those that bring in knowledge from the margins, (see hooks 2015), such as works that theorize race and gender through feminist and queer lenses, thus capturing other dimensions often hidden from mainstream EU studies (see for example Schotel and Mügge 2021; Saltnes and Thiel 2021).

Although we happily accepted our editorial role, the position of knowledge gatekeeper by virtue of being an editor was not worn so easily. In order to address the unease while attending to commitments to greater inclusion, we changed our Special Issue policy. Proposals must consider a gender balanced list of contributors as well, and both men and women would need to be represented on the guest editorial team. Moreover, we ask that the editorial teams and contributors are scholars at different career stages. The same went for our shorter symposiums. This has gone a long way in increasing gender representation while also signalling our broader commitment to those who wish to engage with the journal. For example, and anecdotally, more early career scholars consider JCMS a venue for their research where previously they may have discounted the journal on the basis that it was “too prestigious” to consider their scholarship seriously. In a sense, we have found that to institutionalize practices that are intended to mitigate ongoing inequalities we need to bring others along as form of accountability. Further, such practices with their implications for knowledge making also have implications beyond the limited orbit of journal publishing.


Gender was and is the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to broadening representation in the journal publishing process. Asking contributors for their gender on registration with the journal management system appears more socially acceptable than collating other types of identity data. Paying attention to gender allows us to develop strategies for challenging hegemonic knowledge practices, and consequently who can make knowledge about “European Studies”. While much of our findings so far, though limited, reflect similar trends in political science and international relations journals (see Bettecken et al.; Martinsen et al.; and Verney and Bosco in this debate), we have gone further to claim that who gets represented within journals is not only a metric for equity, but also has implications for knowledge production about our subject areas (see also Medie and Kang 2018; Demeter 2020).

We have further shown the ways in which we have sought to intervene so that gender (and other axes of inequality) has been mitigated over the latest editorial tenure of the journal. Change is, however, slow as evidenced by the fact that we do not have parity. Additionally, in the bid to understand parity with respect to gender we call attention to the ways in which data around gender is currently collated, which can have the unintended consequence of erasing gender non-conforming scholars. There is thus much to do in this regard.

Yet, there are events beyond our editorial control that further slowdown change. For example, while the impact of COVID has been uneven in terms of its impact on women’s submissions, across the board,Footnote 3 our experiences show that the timeline of reviews and their eventual submission has increased. When we consider the gendered impact of COVID (Wright et al. 2021), as editors we have experienced first-hand impacts such as delays to reviews and delays to author returns. These sorts of impacts, including lower submission rates during the pandemic by women, are linked to who undertakes the bulk of caring responsibilities (Kenny 2021). While the current crisis underscores the limitations of what we can do in our gatekeeping roles, importantly, it also illuminates how journal publishing sits within broader systems of inequalities that undermine gender equality, including in political science and international relations. At the same time, being limited within these systems of broader inequality is not to say we are powerless. Editors, in our choice of who sits on editorial boards, what we consider to be scholarship in our area and therefore what we consider publishing, can have an important role in transforming unequal systems within higher education broadly.