, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 87–114 | Cite as

Assessing gender balance among journal authors and editorial board members

  • Elba Mauleón
  • Laura Hillán
  • Luz Moreno
  • Isabel Gómez
  • María BordonsEmail author


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.


Scientific journals Editorial boards Women and science Gender gap Authorship 



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.


  1. Aleixandre-Benavent, R., González-Alcaide, G., Alonso-Arroyo, A., Castellano-Gómez, M., & Valderrama-Zurian, J. C. (2007). Gender analysis among articles published in Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiologia Clinica (2001–2005). Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiología Clínica, 25(10), 619–626.Google Scholar
  2. American Mathematical Society (AMS) (2009). 2009 Statement. The culture of research and scholarship in Mathematics: Citation and impact in mathematical publications. Accessed February 2012.
  3. Amrein, K., Langmann, A., Fahrleitner-Pammer, A., Pieber, T. R., & Zollner-Schwetz, I. (2011). Women underrepresented on editorial boards of 60 major medical journals. Gender Medicine, 8(6), 378–387.Google Scholar
  4. Blum, T. C., Fields, D. L., & Goodman, J. S. (1994). Organization-level determinants of women in management. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 241–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bordons, M., & Barrigón, S. (1992). Bibliometric analysis of publications of Spanish pharmacologists in the SCI (1984–1989). 2. Contribution to subfields other than Pharmacology and Pharmacy (ISI). Scientometrics, 25(3), 425–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bordons, M., Gómez, I., Hillán, L, Mauleón, E., Moreno, L., & Morillo, F. (2012). Indicadores de género en las publicaciones científicas: “gate-keepers” y autores. Report. Madrid: IEDCYT, CCHS, CSIC.Google Scholar
  7. Bordons, M., & Mauleón, E. (2006). Women’s research careers and scientific productivity in public research. In: OECD (Ed.), Women in scientific careers: Unleashing the potential (pp. 67–75). OECD.Google Scholar
  8. Braun, T. (2004). Keeping the gates of science journals. Gate keeping indicators of national performance in the sciences. In: H. F. Moed, W. Glänzel, & V. Schmoch (Eds.), Handbook of quantitative science and technology research, (pp. 95–114). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Crane, D. (1967). The gatekeepers of science: Some factors affecting the selection of articles for scientific journals. The American Sociologist, 2, 195–201.Google Scholar
  10. Dickersin, K., Fredman, L., Flegal, K. M., Scott, J. D., & Crawley, B. (1998). Is there a sex bias in choosing editors? Epidemiology journals as an example. JAMA, 280(3), 260–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ETAN expert working group on Women and Science (2000). Science Policy in the European Union. Promoting excellence through mainstreaming gender equality. Brussels: European Commission. Directorate-General for Research Accessed February 2012.
  12. European Commission (2008). Mapping the maze: getting more women to the top in research. Luxembourg: European Commission. Directorate-General for Research. Directorate L-Science, Economy and Society. Unit L.4. Scientific culture and gender issues. EUR23311EN.Google Scholar
  13. European Commission (2010). Stocktaking 10 years of “Women in Science” policy by the European Commission 19992009. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Directorate-General for Research.Google Scholar
  14. Evans, J., Hsieh, P. P., & Robinson, D. H. (2005). Women’s involvement in educational psychology journals from 1976 to 2004. Educational Psychology Review, 17(3), 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fong, C. J., Yoo, J. H., Jones, S. J., Torres, L. G., & Decker, M. L. (2009). Trends in female authorships, editorial board memberships and editorships in Educational Psychology journals from 2003 to 2008. Educational Psychology Review, 21(3), 267–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frandsen, T. F., & Nicolaisen, J. (2010). What is in a name? Credit assignment practices in different disciplines. Journal of Informetrics, 4(4), 608–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gómez, I., Bordons, M., Morillo, F., Moreno, L., Aparicio, J., Díaz-Faes, A. A., et al. (2011). La actividad científica del CSIC a través de indicadores bibliométricos (Web of Science, 2006–2010). Madrid: IEDCYT, CCHS, CSIC.Google Scholar
  18. González-Alcaide, G. (2010). Authorship, collaboration and citation patterns of biomedical journals published in Spain and included in Journal Citation Reports (2003–2007). Revista Española de Documentación Científica, 33(3), 397–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gonzalez-Alcaide, G., Castello-Cogollos, L., Bolanos-Pizarro, M., Alonso-Arroyo, A., Valderrama-Zurian, J. C., & Aleixandre-Benavent, R. (2010). Twenty years of Spanish psychology research in Psicothema (1989–2008). Psicothema, 22(1), 41–50.Google Scholar
  20. González-Pereira, B., Guerrero-Bote, V. P., & Moya-Anegon, F. (2010). A new approach to the metric of journals’ scientific prestige: the SJR indicator. Journal of Informetrics, 4(3), 379–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Instituto Español de Estadística (INE). Estadística de la Enseñanza Superior en España. In:
  22. Jagsi, R., Guancial, E. A., Worobey, C. C., Henault, L. E., Chang, Y., Starr, R., et al. (2006). The “gender gap” in authorship of academia medical literature—a 35-year perspective. New England Journal of Medicine, 355, 281–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kennedy, B. L., Lin, Y., & Dickstein, L. J. (2001). Women on the editorial boards of major journals. Academic Medicine, 76(8), 849–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lariviere, V., Vignola-Gagne, E., Villeneuve, C., Gelinas, P., & Gingras, Y. (2011). Sex differences in research funding, productivity and impact: an analysis of Quebec university professors. Scientometrics, 87(3), 483–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lewison, G. (2001). The quantity and quality of female researchers: a bibliometric study of Iceland. Scientometrics, 51(1), 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mauleón, E., & Bordons, M. (2010). Male and female involvement in patenting activity in Spain. Scientometrics, 83(3), 605–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mauleón, E., Bordons, M., & Oppenheim, C. (2008). The effect of gender on research staff success in life sciences in the Spanish National Research Council. Research Evaluation, 17(3), 213–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McSweeney, F. K., Donahoe, P., & Swindell, S. (2000). Women in applied behavior analysis. Behavior Analyst, 23(2), 267–277.Google Scholar
  29. Merton, R. (1977). La sociología de la ciencia: Investigaciones teóricas y empíricas. Madrid: Alianza.Google Scholar
  30. Metz, I., & Harzing, A. W. (2009). Gender diversity in editorial boards of management journals. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8(4), 540–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Miqueo, C., Germán Bes, C., Fernández-Turrado, T., & Barral Morán, M. J. (2011). Ellas también cuentan. Científicas en los comités de revistas biomédicas. Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza.Google Scholar
  32. Morton, M. J., & Sonnad, S. S. (2007). Women on professional society and journal editorial boards. Journal of the National Medical Association, 99(7), 764–771.Google Scholar
  33. Naldi, F., Luzi, D., Valente, A., & Vannini-Parenti, I. (2004). Scientific and technological performance by gender. In: H. F. Moed, W. Glänzel, & V. Schmoch (Eds.), Handbook of quantitative science and technology research (pp. 299–314). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  34. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine (2006). Beyond bias and barriers: fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  35. National Science Board (2010). Science and engineering indicators 2010. Arlington: National Science Foundation (NSB 10-01).Google Scholar
  36. National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics (2011). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering: 2011. Special Report NSF 11-309. Arlington, VA. Available at
  37. Porter, C. L., Christian, L., & Poling, A. (2003). Participation of women as authors and editors in journals concerned with mental retardation and related topics. American Association of Mental Retardation, 41(1), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Robinson, D. H., McKay, D., Katayama, A. D., & Fan, A. (1998). Are women under-represented as authors and editors of educational psychology journals? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23(3), 331–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sánchez de Madariaga, I., De la Rica, S., Dolado, J.J. (2011). Libro blanco. Situación de las mujeres en la ciencia española. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Available at:
  40. She Figures (2009). Statistics and Indicators on Gender Equality in Science. European Commission. Directorate-General for Research. ISBN 978-92-79-11388-8.
  41. Sidhu, R., Rajashekhar, P., Lavin, V. L., Parry, J., Attwood, J., Holdcroft, A., et al. (2009). The gender imbalance in academic medicine: a study of female authorship in the United Kingdom. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 102(8), 337–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Singh, P. P., & Jatoi, A. (2008). Do gender-based disparities in authorship also exist in cancer palliative care? A 15-year survey of the cancer palliative care literature. Journal of Cancer Education, 23(3), 192–194.Google Scholar
  43. Stegmaier, M., Palmer, B., & Van Assendelft, L. (2011). Getting on the board: the presence of women in political science journal editorial positions. PS: Political Science and Politics, 44(4), 799–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Torres-Salinas, D., Muñoz, A. M., & Jiménez-Contreras, E. (2011). Análisis bibliométrico de la situación de las mujeres investigadoras de Ciencias Sociales y Jurídicas en España. Revista Española de Documentación Científica, 34(1), 11–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Uzun, A. (2004). Assessing internationality of scholarly journals through foreign authorship patterns: the case of major journals in information science and scientometrics. Scientometrics, 61(3), 457–465.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Webster, B. M. (2001). Polish women in science: A bibliometric analysis of Polish science and its publications, 1980–1999. Research Evaluation, 10(3), 185–194.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elba Mauleón
    • 1
  • Laura Hillán
    • 2
  • Luz Moreno
    • 2
  • Isabel Gómez
    • 2
  • María Bordons
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Human and Social Sciences (CCHS), Instituto de Estudios Documentales en Ciencia y Tecnología (IEDCYT)Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)MadridSpain

Personalised recommendations