Editor and reviewer gender influence the peer review process but not peer review outcomes at an ecology journal

Charles W. Fox, C. Sean Burns, Jennifer A. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Lack of diversity on editorial boards might generate disparities in editorial and peer review that contribute to gender and geographic disparities in scholarly publishing. We use a comprehensive data set of the peer review process for all papers submitted to the journal Functional Ecology from January 2004 to June 2014 to examine how gender, seniority and geographic location of editors and reviewers influence reviewer recruitment and scores given to papers by reviewers. The gender ratio of editors for Functional Ecology was majority male, but the proportion of female editors increased over time. The gender ratio of selected reviewers was also highly majority male, but the proportion of women selected as reviewers increased over the 10 years largely because the number of women on the editorial board increased and female editors invited more female reviewers than did male editors. Male editors selected <25% female reviewers even in the year they selected the most women, but female editors consistently selected 30-35% female reviewers. Editors also over-selected reviewers from their own geographic locality. Women invited to review were less likely to respond to review invitations, but more likely to accept if they responded. Women invited to review responded to the invitation similarly regardless of whether the editor inviting them was male or female, but men invited to review were both less likely to respond and more likely to decline if the editor was female. Review scores given to papers did not differ between male and female reviewers, and final decisions (proportion of papers rejected) did not differ between male and female editors. The proportion of women among selected reviewers decreased with editor seniority when the editor was male but increased with editor seniority when the editor was female. Thus, the gender ratio of selected reviewers differed little between early-career male and female editors but differed a lot between late-career (more senior) male and female editors. Individuals invited to review were less likely to agree to review if the editor was more senior. Editor gender, seniority and geographic location affect who is invited to review for Functional Ecology, and how invitees respond to review invitations, but not the final outcome of the peer review process. To increase diversity of reviewer populations, journals should increase gender, age and geographic diversity of their editorial boards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-153
Number of pages14
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 British Ecological Society.

Keywords

  • Editorial board composition
  • Gender balance
  • Gender bias
  • Peer review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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