Review of No Fair Sex in Academia: Is Hiring to Editorial Boards Gender Biased? v. 7
The authors have now responded to my comments, which is good.
I note that most of my suggestions and comments from my previous review have not been implemented. I must conclude that the authors have either not read them (some were in the PDF file) or have ignored them. I have now looked more closely to understand why, but cannot see any reason. It would be useful if the authors provided a review response, where reviewers can see clearly which suggestions have been implemented or not, and the reasons why.
I begin with the comments that still apply from the previous review:
Since the findings are clear, the title should not be expressed as a question but as a statement. Not revised.
The tables are ugly because they have both horiz and vertical lines, and do not follow APA format. I think the APA format is much better than the present style.
I still think it needs proofreading, preferably by a native English speaker. The language is unidiomatic, and to me, at least, quite annoying to read. This is gleaned from the many suggested changes below.
Here are some new comments:
The central research question comes in the 2nd para: “These disparities pose a key question: to what extent do sex biases or sex differences explain different outcomes?” One would expect the following to focus on the question to be investigated, i.e. bias, but the whole next para is about cognitive differences. I think that is inconsistent with the focus of the paper, in particular as there are other possible group differences, such as personality, interests, and preferences, which are not mentioned at all. I recommend a short para that briefly reviews these different alternative causes, referring only to review and overview articles, and then focus on discrimination and possible ways that it might influence.
46 maybe-> may be
46 women have a greater interested in family-> women have a greater interest in family
108 “have been urging their editors to improve the sex ratio in their boards” Improve is value-laden, which should be avoided in scientific writings unless specifically motivated. It is also unclear what it means, because depending on the ideals of the person and the current ratio in the particular context that that person is referring to, she feel that “improving the sex ratio” is to increase males, to increase females, or to make the proportion equal.
125-127 This sentence is a bit unclear
130 I suggest “As mentioned, the variance in intelligence is higher amongst males, and their average also seems to be somewhat higher.”
You should use the term ‘sex’ rather than ’gender’, because your use of categories (male vs. female) indicates it is biological sex you are considering. In fact, you inconsistently use sex 20 times and gender 20 times in the ms. The point of the matter is that there are two different concepts for being male and female, sex for biological (gonadal) sex and gender for “social sex”. Gender is supposed to reflect “social sex”, that is, roughly “behaviours, preferences, and experiences that are typical of one sex, but which may vary along a continuum”. If we are to follow the APA on this matter, they state that (https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/bias-free-language/gender): “Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person's biological sex (APA, 2012). Gender is a social construct and a social identity. Use the term “gender” when referring to people as social groups. For example, when reporting the genders of participants in the Method section, write something like this: “Approximately 60% of participants identified as cisgender women, 35% as cisgender men, 3% as transgender women, 1% as transgender men, and 1% as nonbinary.” Sex refers to biological sex assignment; use the term “sex” when the biological distinction of sex assignment (e.g., sex assigned at birth) is predominant.”
However, the connection between this and the composition of editorial boards is complex, and would require more elaboration. More than is worth to spend space on, given that is rather peripheral, as the question you examine is the relation between merits and editorship. If we ALSO weigh in that the average difference is heavily contested (although probably correct) it seems counterproductive to get another 50% of academics presumably reading this to just ignore the whole study. In my estimation, the IQ thing doesn’t add anything anyway, because (1) again, this study is not about that, it doesn’t measure IQ, it’s all merits and editorship, and (2) you cannot (and you don’t) estimate any effects of IQ, so no comparisons of different possible effects can be made anyway.
138 Which test?
146 Doesn’t it also indicate that women are being favoured when Psychiatry journal boards hire?
157 The authors found THAT women had fewer publications
158 No, not assistant professors, but hired or promoted to a position as professor, the equivalent status to tenured (or full) professor in the United States.
159 Strumia found THAT
162 there might be A sex bias
165 You should not mix “gender bias” and “sex bias” unless (1) you intend a different meaning with these two terms AND (2) you clearly define that distinction (before used the first time).
Again, the only thing you or any other previous studies KNOW about the study individuals is their SEX, they have typically NOT measured or asked them about their “gender identity” or “social sex” and it is hence quite incorrect to use “gender”. Please follow the APA guidelines:
“Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person's biological sex (APA, 2012). Gender is a social construct and a social identity. Use the term “gender” when referring to people as social groups. For example, when reporting the genders of participants in the Method section, write something like this: “Approximately 60% of participants identified as cisgender women, 35% as cisgender men, 3% as transgender women, 1% as transgender men, and 1% as nonbinary.” Sex refers to biological sex assignment; use the term “sex” when the biological distinction of sex assignment (e.g., sex assigned at birth) is predominant.” (https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/bias-free-language/gender).”
178 “unobserved ability, making a preference for one sex over another possibly meritocratic.“I
Please develop this argument (if there is one)
181 “Firstly, women make up a higher proportion of these scholars”
Compared to what?
192 ” We thought it was also important to choose disciplines within a large range of political” -> within a wide range of political
195 “left-wingers” Perhaps an unhappy term to use in a scholarly paper?
196 Change to “be prone to bias towards groups with low status, including women”
198 Change to “Whilst a wide range of disciplines”
226 Change to “suggesting that editorial boards’ apparent sex disparities could be close to the meritocratic ideal.”
What is “sex disparities”? What is “the meritocratic ideal”? Define! Define!
236 “From this ranking, we then took the top 30 journals from each discipline”
“our results reflect whether there is bias in the elite of each discipline studied.”
Does not make sense! What do you mean?
240 “We disagreed with the discipline label of some of the journals on Scimagojr....”
What’s the point of this? Probably better to just stick with the labeling that Scimagojr uses: Then it’s all on them! It probably makes no essential difference anyway!
245 Change to “Table 9”
281 Change to “were women, meaning that women were slightly less”
284 Change to “Table 9”
“Sometimes Google Scholar pages for individual academics contained errors. Some papers had incorrect dates and some were attributed to the wrong author. When a Google Scholar Page included five or more articles that the author had not written, we excluded this author.
299 “To deal with these extreme values we applied Tukey’s Fences...”
What is that?
327 “This suggests that any of the dependent variables...”
354 “underrepresent to denote whether the fraction of women on editorial boards in a discipline is greater or less than female representation in the relevant population of academics...”
358 Change to “For comparison, we found a range of datasets representing the sex proportion amongst academics in the disciplines studied here.”
364 Change to “have sex proportions specifically for Anthropology or Political Science, so we use...”
388 Change to “within the Social Sciences”
416 Change to “in Figure 1”
418 Change to “Table 5”
460 “Our results are the opposite of what would be expected if women were being discriminated against, strongly suggesting that women are not discriminated against in hiring to editorial boards.”
466 Change to “Women are under-represented in psychology editorial boards, and yet the women who do manage to get on the editorial boards dramatically underperform relative to the men that are on the board by 0.44 standard deviations.” And “In other words, women are underrepresented on psychology editorial boards relative to their proportion presence on faculty, but are are still overrepresented relative to their merit”
Table 6. Vertical indices along the left side should be numbered 1-12, otherwise it’s difficult to identify the horizontal indicies. The F values seem much too high.
527 I would suggest not using terms like “academia is a ‘leaky pipeline’”, because that is a charged and political concept, created to summon a particular impression about the causes of fewer women in certain domains.
623 Change to “This means that for every academic preferring men there were 11 who preferred women.
626 Change to “This suggests that there is a large minority of academics that would act to discriminate against men to serve on editorial boards.” (They usually are not hired or payed, but serve free of charge)
629 Change to “Only 3% of respondents believed that journal editors should be biased in favour of men.”
650 Numbers < 12 should be written with letters, unless they constitute a precise value with a specified unit, such as “2.1 centimetres”, “4 Ångström”. Change to “Nearly three academics preferred young academics for every one that supported older academics”
659 Change to “These differed significantly from 5 (p < 0.001), suggesting that academics thought that journals were biased in favour of men and older scholars.”
660 Change to “So whilst academics are biased in favour of women and young people, they simultaneously believe other academics have the opposite bias.”
662 Change to “We speculate in the discussion that academics have such a strong anti-male bias that it deludes them into thinking that academia at large has the opposite bias.” OR “We speculate in the discussion that academics have a strong anti-male bias, and that this contrasts with reality in such a way that it appears to them that academia at large has the opposite bias.”
667 “diversity in questions 2 and 1 respectively.” What does this mean? Why in reverse order?
670 Change to ”With responses overwhelmingly closer to 10 than 0, it seems that academics place much value on diversity.” Was it specified which kind of diversity you referred to? E.g., in political preferences, in theoretical/scientific perspectives, in family values, in wealth, etc?
676 “had a greater aptitude for research, despite the fact men tend to receive more citations”. Is the point of mentioning this here that this fact was part of the question, e.g. “Do you believe that, considering the fact that male academics tend to receive more citations, men have a greater aptitude for research?”
680 Change to “suggests academics believe that young scholars are just as good as older scholars.”
682 Change to “In Table 8 we present”
688 “This could be because some scholars that believe in age diversity think this requires more older scholars to be represented on journal boards”.
This is a very important point, and it needs further attention in klight of my previous comments regarding the formulation of the items, i.e.:
I have some concerns with the survey items, which are not ideally phrased in order to get at what you want. This type of ambiguity is unfortunately common. How do you think respondents interpret "important"? Is "important" equal to avoid/decrease or prefer/increase? So, what would a person who thinks that the sex composition should be all female or male rate? That it's important or not important? Or those who think that meritocracy should be the only factor? They may still think that "age diversity" is "important" only that it should fall out according to merits, or that there are highly merited people of all ages, and it's only because of age discrimination that this does not manifest. Such a person may answer "not important" in order not to suggest that "under-represented" age ranges be favoured - but still think such diversity is desriable! When we come to Q3 and higher I become even more confused. What does “Should journal editors have an age preference in hiring to editorial boards? (Pick 5 for no age preference)” mean? Apparently, 5 is no preference and 10 is “a preference”? But which preference? For higher, lower, equal, or perhaps varied ages? So what would then ratings from 0 to 4.99 stand for? It’s simply not defined, which might be why the mean is just above 5. But this construction of items causes confusion and ambiguity for both respondents and for interpreters of the results. This should be dealt with in the result section and discussed as a weakness in the discussion. So, I am really unsure about how to interpret the mean of 3.9 for “Q8. Do you think journal editors have a sex preference in hiring to editorial boards? (Pick 5 for no sex preference)”. Journal editors have a *negative* preference?! What’s that even supposed to mean? It would have been clear if the item was “editors have a preference for hiring females to editorial boards? (Pick 5 for no sex preference, and smaller values for a male preference)”. These issues seem to be reflected in the vastly different distributions across items in Figure 2.
693 “This could indicate that bias against men is so strong amongst academics that they refuse to believe in greater male academic ability.” This sounds like a discussion/interpretation point. Could you structure the arguments more clearly, in particular in results/discussion?
741 Change to “In the regression results, we found that controlling for years publishing reduces the male advantage in research output.”
742 Change to “We are uncertain about the reasons for this, but suggest that (1) older scholars have had more time to publish papers, (2) younger cohorts of scholars are less productive than older ones, and (3) journals have a pro-old age bias.”
750 “men being better at academic research”. This is an unfortunate formulation, because it implies essentialism and inherent causes. Even if that may be the case, you have not presented any evidence for it, and it is essentially irrelevant in relation to the empirical questions treated in this ms. I suggest “The regression results are inconsistent with anti-female discrimination but support the presence of anti-male discrimination and higher academic performance amongst men”.
753 Change to “they were eleven times more likely to support discrimination”
776 Change to “It is possible that whilst our”
782 Change to “Moreover, academics at elite institutions are overwhelmingly left-wing, which is associated with having pro-female preferences (Winegard et al., 2020), suggesting that editors...”
801 Change to “Academics who do not support affirmative action for women or diversity might be shunned or even ‘cancelled’ by their overwhelmingly left-wing colleagues”
809 Change to “Furthermore, we found that those who were more strongly biased against men also more strongly believed academia to be biased against women.“
814 Change to “Given that anti-male bias is so common and accepted, this could explain why our results are consistent with anti-male bias despite anti-female bias being a more popular theory with academics.”
819 Change to “We cannot determine whether editorial boards have previously exhibited a bias against women, because our data are not longitudinal, but we can be reasonably confident that they do not now. “
822 Change to “In Gary Becker’s taste discrimination model of the labour market 822 (1971), profit seeking firms should employ discriminated groups because they accept lower wages. Likewise, journals looking for top talent could do well in recruiting men that other editorial boards have ignored”