by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
A scholarly paper released last week finds “No evidence of any systematic bias against manuscripts by women in the peer review process of 145 scholarly journals.” From the Abstract:
This article examines gender bias in peer review with complete data on 145 journals in various fields of research, including about 1.7 million authors and 740,000 referees. We reconstructed three possible sources of bias, i.e., the editorial selection of referees, referee recommendations, and editorial decisions, and examined all their possible relationships. In line with previous research, we found that editors were sensitive to gender homophily in that they tended to match authors and referee by gender systematically. Results showed that in general manuscripts written by women as solo authors or co-authored by women are treated even more favorably by referees and editors. This is especially so in biomedicine and health journals, whereas women were treated relatively less favorably in social science & humanities journals, i.e., the field in which the ratio of female authors was the highest in our sample. Although with some caveat, our findings suggest that peer review and editorial processes in scholarly journals do not penalize manuscripts by women.