Part n of an m part series, I guess. I was intrigued by these comments by Ross Cameron.
As I understand it, women are under-represented in the major journals (I mean, even given their under-representation in the profession – that is, woman are even more under-represented in the journals than you’d expect them to be, given how many women there are in the profession). Why is this? Well, we’d need a study on this, but the following seems likely to me. Since women are under-represented in the profession it is very likely, for every paper sent to a journal, that it will be refereed by a man. Men and women vary in their styles of writing and arguing. So while when a man submits a paper it is likely that it will be reveiwed by someone who writes and argues in a broadly similar style, with women this is very unlikely. Hence, women face a disadvantage in trying to get papers published.
Okay – it’s hardly likely to be that simple. But I bet there’s something to this. And if there’s some truth to this then there’s a good case to be made, it seems to me, for journals implementing the rule that papers by women should, other things being equal, be reveiwed by women. (The ‘other things’ packs in a lot, because it seems far more important that papers be reveiwed by experts in the subject.) Is there a good reason why this shouldn’t happen?
I don’t have any off-the-cuff opinions on this, but I thought it should be shared with a wider audience. I’m not really sure it is true that women are under-represented in the major journals relative to their distribution in the profession. My rough idea (and boy will this be embarrassing if I’m wrong) is that the overwhelming bulk of submissions to Phil Review are by men, and that the gender balance of what’s published roughly equals the gender balance of what’s submitted. (We referee papers blind, but we learn the identity of authors after a decision is made, so I have some sense of who has been sending stuff in, if not the current submissions.) But if it is true (and it wouldn’t surprise me if it is) then is Ross’s proposal worth adopting?
UPDATE – Asta notes in the comments that Sally Haslanger will be presenting some research at the Central APA showing that women are indeed under-represented in the major journals, even relative to their representation in the leading departments.