January 23, 2022

Analysis: “Journals Invite Too Few Women to Referee”

From Nature:

Jory Lerback and Brooks Hanson present an analysis that reveals evidence of gender bias in peer review for scholarly publications.


Another career-building activity is serving as a peer reviewer for publications. This develops writing skills and expertise through exposure to other manuscripts, and fosters relationships with fellow scholars and scientific leaders. Such activities are especially important for young scientists.

But most publishers do not collect gender, age or any other relevant demographic information from authors or reviewers. So biases here have been harder to pin down. Most studies of gender inequality in publishing have assigned gender to authors3, 4 but have lacked information on age. This is important because many fields have only recently seen increases in participation of women.

Here we present evidence that women of all ages have fewer opportunities to take part in peer review. Using a large data set that includes the genders and ages of authors and reviewers from 2012 to 2015 for the journals of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), we show that women were used less as reviewers than expected (on the basis of their proportion of membership of the society and as published authors in AGU journals). The bias is a result of authors and editors, especially male ones, suggesting women as reviewers less often, and a slightly higher decline rate among women in each age group when asked.

Read the Complete Article (approx. 2000 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.