In a 2013 series of articles, Nature documented “the dismaying extent to which sexism still exists in science. In the United States and Europe, around half of those who gain doctoral degrees in science and engineering are female — but barely one-fifth of full professors are women.” And when it examined over 5.4 million research papers, Nature found similarly disproportionate numbers of women authors.
That dismaying gender disparity – and a passion for promoting gender diversity – recently led Alice Meadows to organize and host Mind the Gap: addressing the need for more women leaders in scholarly publishing, an SSP conference session examining the limitations of current approaches to hiring and promoting senior managers. The discussion built on a 2013 post to Scholarly Kitchen wondering about the lack of women in executive positions across the field.
“It’s a little disappointing how male-dominated our industry still is, considering how many women go into scholarly publishing,” she tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “There’s a disproportionate number of women entering the profession, and a disproportionate number of men at the top. Which isn’t to say there aren’t many very able men at the top, but you would expect there to be more women at the top, given the number of women entering the profession.
Among those attending “Mind the Gap” was Michael Harington, another Scholarly Kitchen blogger, who wrote an account that opened with his observation that few men bothered to attend. As he tells Chris Kenneally, the absence was telling.
“This is not just a women’s issue. This is an issue for all of us,” he says. “Men should be equally concerned as women that we bring on the best leaders, regardless of whether they’re male or female. I think it’s an opportunity for those of us who work in scholarly publishing… to bring on the best talent.
Alice Meadows is currently Director of Communications for ORCID, a community-led nonprofit organization that aims to solve the name ambiguity problem in research and scholarly communications. Previously, she held a range of marketing roles for Wiley and, before that, Blackwell (US and UK) including, most recently, as Director of Communication; she was also a founding partner in a small UK business offering marketing services to scholarly and STM publishers.
Robert M. Harington is Associate Executive Director, Publishing, at the American Mathematical Society. Robert has the responsibility for driving strategic growth and management of the AMS publishing program for books, journals and electronic products. Robert holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Oxford, and a first-class honours degree in chemistry from the University of London.