News Detail

A new study by Ione Fine and doctoral student Alicia Shen quantifies the glass ceiling for women in academic publishing.

Professor Yuichi Shoda and research associate Jason Webster are co-authors of the study.

March 7, 2018

Is there a glass ceiling in academic publishing?

Kim Eckart

UW News

A University of Washington study finds that women authors make up a fraction of the research published in high-profile journals.

Five years ago, Nature — one of the most prestigious research journals in science — published an editorial pledging to improve on the low number of women editors and authors in its pages.

For many readers and scientists, that acknowledgement was a long time in coming. Yet with the hindsight of today’s re-examination of the treatment of women at all levels of society, the editorial could seem almost prescient.

In the time since that editorial, however, not much has changed, according to a new University of Washington study published online and cited in a letter printed March 7 in Nature. The preliminary study, by UW psychology professor Ione Fine and doctoral student Alicia Shen, finds that many high-profile neuroscience journals had a low representation of female authors. For example, fewer than 25 percent of Nature research articles listed women as the first author — usually the junior scientist who led the research. Among last authors — typically the senior laboratory leader — just over 15 percent were women. Nature’s top-tier competitor, Science, had similarly low numbers of women authors.

What most concerned the UW team was that over a 12-year period ending in 2017, the percentage of female authors across these journals showed little improvement: less than 1 percent annually, with many journals showing no increase at all.

Read the full story here .