Driven by mere curiosity, this is a simple study on the relationship between gender and authorship in the Journal of World-Systems Research. The Journal has been published as an on-line, open-access and refereed journal since 1995. There is a total of 23 published volumes that are accessible to anyone on-line.
Gender issues have increasingly become salient in sociology, political economy and political science. The fact that the World Bank has a whole bunch of gender-related indicators is a reflection of the need to create awareness of gender disparities and the immediacy of addressing this problem so that appropriate policy options can be created. In some countries this is less of an issue because the social and economic disparities between men and women are minimal whereas in some others the differences are quite dramatic.
The present Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has “made parity our central reform objective. We have already reached parity in the Senior Management Group, the top level of the administration of the UN. And we will soon reach it at the level of the country leaders of the UN. But our aim is to have parity across the board in the whole of the United Nations; and this will be a key instrument for us to be able to fight sexual exploitation with zero tolerance to fight sexual harassment and to make sure that we create an organization in which women and men can work together in full equality and contribute to a world in which women and men can also be in full equality.” (http://www.un.org/en/index.html, 7 march 2018). It is encouraging to hear such commitment from the head of the UN, who is right on the mark by stating that the problem is a matter of power inequality and therefore it is important to empower women.
A study on gender inequality in the LSE International Relations reading lists done by “. . .about twenty or so PhD candidates at the department manually (!) scraped the reading lists of 43 courses that were on offer during the 2015-2016 academic year, resulting in a dataset containing 12,358 non-unique publications. Of those, 2,574 involves at least one female author, while 9,784 features at least one male author. Moreover, 81% of the syllabi is written exclusively by male scholars.” (https://www.r-bloggers.com/quantitative-story-telling-with-shiny-gender-bias-in-syllabi/ Accessed 7 March 2018). The study found that there was an increase in female authors after 1990; however, when analyzed together, male authors also displayed a remarkable increase, indicating that the trend is universal. In the words of the author “Our illustration demonstrates two separate effects. First, there is absolute improvement over time; in syllabi, the number of publications by female authors tripled in the last three decades. Second, there is comparatively little relative progress in the same time frame.” (https://www.r-bloggers.com/quantitative-story-telling-with-shiny-gender-bias-in-syllabi/ Accessed 7 March 2018).
The study also found that the majority of the publication years included less than 20% female authors. “. . . we observe a similar trend after 1990; the relative improvement is about double: pre-1990, the female author ratio averages around 10%, while post-1990 it’s about 20%.” (https://www.r-bloggers.com/quantitative-story-telling-with-shiny-gender-bias-in-syllabi/ Accessed 7 March 2018).
According to Catalyst, “Women academics held 40.6% of academic positions across the 28 countries of the European Union (EU-28) in 2013.” Furthermore, and more importantly, “Women were a minority among senior academics (Grade A) in many European countries, including Belgium (15.6%), Germany (17.3%), the United Kingdom (17.5%), France (19.3%), Switzerland (19.3%), and Sweden (23.8%).” (http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-academia accessed 7 march 2018). The same source indicates that in the United States “While women held nearly half (48.9%) of all tenure-track positions in 2015, they held just 38.4% of tenured positions.”
In a male-dominated world, as aptly expressed by the head of the UN, I wanted to see how this disparity of power manifests itself in JWSR. As I was recording the data I did not make any distinction between editorials, articles or book reviews. I did not specify articles or book reviews that are coauthored, either. In the case of an article or book review with more than one author, their names are entered separately.
This is dirty work in terms of data collection because you just have to record the names and gender of authors one by one, which is quite time-consuming. I don’t think web-scraping would work to get these data; at least I’m not aware of it. The database I formed includes volume and issue number, author’s name, gender and the year of publication.
The database contains a total of 792 entries as explained above. Within this total 180 are female and 612 are male authors. This results in a female/male ratio of 29.4%. For each publication by a female there are 3.4 published by males. No effort was made to classify authors on the basis of ethnicity as this would be rather nebulous and make things complicated.
A few other remarks are warranted. A time-series plot of publications reveals that male publications seem to have more noticeable fluctuations compared to female publications. Moreover, female publications surge in 2010 and between 2010 and 2017 they have more fluctuations.
Such an analysis of authorship in and of itself may not be very meaningful unless these data are compared to other journals or viewed within the context of general statistics on women in academia. For the 23 years in question, females published 7.8 articles per year, and males 26.7. The ratio is 1 to 3.4. It can be seen that the increase in female publications in JWSR is greater than the one in males but there is still a long way to go in reaching parity in academia in general. It is pleasing to see that women are publishing more in a journal that is dedicated to world-systems analysis, a perspective that focuses on the nature and underlying dynamics of inequality on a global scale. To what extent this inequality in academia is a reflection of material conditions in which individuals find themselves trapped and to what extent it is a result of ideological (gender-based, male-oriented) or social prejudice is a question that needs to be addressed.