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Unpacking the gender gap in academic journal publishing: the experience of South European Society and Politics

Abstract

This article adds a new case-study to the existing empirical analyses of gender differences in academic journals. The record of South European Society and Politics confirms the established pattern of a gender gap in published output, with its source at the submissions stage. It also reveals gendered preferences with regard to authorship styles, highlighting a pattern of greater individualism and homophily for men and a more collaborative picture for female scholars; in particular, we found that co-authoring increases women’s publication footprint. Moving on to the journal’s gatekeepers, we also discovered gender imbalance. An investigation of rejection rates finds that the predominantly female editorial team made gender-neutral choices during the initial editorial review of submissions, but selected overwhelmingly male referees. While women are less successful than men in the blind peer review process, this is overshadowed by the difference in submission rates. Potential explanations for the latter were considered, including lesser access to academic networks as well as the “impostor phenomenon”, which afflicts women more than men. The article concludes that addressing the journal publishing gender gap requires broader changes in academic life.

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Notes

  1. See, for example, Grossman 2020 who noted that despite using gender recognition software, it was still necessary to check the gender identity of 75 per cent of authors.

  2. The journal has received a minimal number of submissions from authors identifying as ‘they/them’, but none occurred during the period covered in this article.

  3. On the gatekeeping role of peer reviewers, see Caputo (2019).

  4. We would like to take the opportunity here to publicly thank our current Associate Editors, Senem Aydin-Duzgit, Sandra Bermudez-Torres and Lorenzo Mosca, and former Associate Editor, Leire Salazar, for their collaboration with us. We would also like to acknowledge the significant role of our Assistant Editors, Fabio Bordignon and Elisabetta De Giorgi, who handle other aspects of the journal’s work.

  5. For example, while above the 26 per cent recorded by Closa et al. (2020) it is below the almost 40 per cent noted by Stockemer et al (2020).

  6. See, for instance, the dedicated websites of the University of Cambridge (https://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/GroupsAndWorkshops/copy_of_studentgroups/Impsyn); of Harvard University (https://gc.seas.harvard.edu/impostor-syndrome); and of Waterloo University (https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses/tips-teaching-assistants/impostor-phenomenon-and).

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Evelyn Karakatsani for research assistance with the data processing, Francesco Ramella for helpful input with data interpretation and Alexis Verney-Provatas for advice on data presentation.

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Correspondence to Susannah Verney.

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Verney, S., Bosco, A. Unpacking the gender gap in academic journal publishing: the experience of South European Society and Politics. Eur Polit Sci 21, 443–461 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-021-00358-2

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Keywords

  • Co-authoring
  • Impostor phenomenon
  • Journal submissions
  • Political science
  • Women in academia