The lost voices of women in research

River D'Almeida, Ph.D
4 min readJan 21, 2023

A new study reveals just how bad the problem is

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

A recent study has published (more) dismal statistics on the gender gap in published scientific literature.

Centuries on and the old boys club lives on. Male journal editors merrily insert their own research work into the publications they manage and wave through papers presented by their fellow male researchers.

86% of scientific journal editors are male. 92% of editors-in-chief are male.

“Although we expected women to be under-represented, we certainly didn’t expect the percentage of women on editorial boards to be as low as 14% for editors and 8% for editors-in-chief,” said New York University’s Bedoor AlShebli, the data scientist who published the findings in Nature Human Behavior.

AlShebli gathered 50 years worth of gender data from over 80,000 editors of 1,100 journals across 15 scientific fields.

There was indisputable evidence of systemic and persistent inequality and clear biases among editorial boards across a multitude of research disciplines.

The STEM chicken and egg

Women have been notoriously underrepresented in some fields such as science and technology, one of the many disciplines where you “publish or perish”. It’s a chicken and egg problem — without publications, women can’t rise the ranks to senior research positions. Without senior positions, and with stifling biases in editorial committees, they’ll never publish.

Canadian statistics indicate that women account for 59% of graduates from science and technology programs. These numbers, however, diminish rapidly at the senior academic and principal investigator levels. The representation of womenat the professoriate and senior administration levels tapers off to just over 20%, in line with similar numbers seen in the UK, US, Australia and the EU. Even upon successfully obtaining a senior position in academia, women only take home 88% of the earningscompared to their male counterparts.

Similarly, the lack of proportional representation is evident when it comes to leaders in the biotechnology industry. Studies have indicated that for the last five decades, women in the US never represented more than 10% of…

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River D'Almeida, Ph.D

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