No Fair Sex in Academia: Evidence of Discrimination in Hiring to Editorial Boards

OpenPsych , May 19, 2022, ISSN: 2597-324X


The editorial boards of academic journals overrepresent men, even above their proportion in university faculties. We test whether this sex disparity is caused by anti-female bias, supposing that anti-female discrimination means women must have a higher research output than men to overcome bias against them. We collect a dataset of the research output and sex of 4,319 academics on the editorials boards of 120 journals within four social science disciplines: Anthropology, Psychology, Political Science and Economics. Using a transformation of the h-index as our indicator of research output, we find male research output to be 0.35 standard deviations (p < 0.001) above female research output. However, the gap falls to 0.13 standard deviations (p < 0.001) when years publishing is controlled for. Our results are replicated with alternative dependent variables and using robust regression. We followed up our research with a survey of 231 academics, asking for their attitudes towards discrimination in hiring to editorial boards. Although two-thirds of academics supported no bias, for every 1 academic who supported discrimination in favour of men, 11 supported discrimination in favour of women. Our results were consistent with the hypothesis that academics and journal editors are biased in favour of women, rather than against women.


Download citation

gender, sex, discrimination, academia

Reviewed by

Review time 311 days