Transcript: 2017 Year-in-Review: Gender & Diversity In the News

Featuring (in order of appearance)

  • Rachel Deahl, News Director, Publishers Weekly
  • Nancy Roberts, founder, Business Inclusivity (UK)
  • Tracey Armstrong, CEO, Copyright Clearance Center
  • Leon Heward-Mills, Global Publishing Director, Taylor & Francis Group
  • Professor Cassidy Sugimoto, School of Informatics & Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington

For podcast release Monday, December 18, 2017

KENNEALLY: In early October, the New York Times reported on allegations by several actresses that Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Hollywood film producer, had sexually harassed or attacked them. Almost immediately, and in wave after wave of allegations that have continued for months, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace become much, much more than just the Harvey Weinstein story.

Welcome to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. I’m Christopher Kenneally for Beyond the Book, looking back at the last twelve months of our program.

The 2017 scandals over sexual harassment and assault reached deep into the media industry, forcing retirements and resignations in newsrooms and publishing houses. The patterns of behavior that were exposed have raised important questions about workplace cultures.

As Publishers Weekly reported in November, the book business offers women no safe harbor in spite of their preponderance in the office. Indeed, PW’s news director Rachel Deahl noted that for female executives, editors, and salespeople, the balance of power often goes against them.

DEAHL: Yeah, so the workplace in book publishing – and we focus on trade book publishing, I should say – is about 80% women, but the overwhelming majority of men are in executive roles. So there is this notable disparity in terms of the power structure, I’d say, along gender lines in the industry.

KENNEALLY: So anyone who would think from the figure of 80% of the workplace this is necessarily a female-friendly environment, they’d be mistaken.

DEAHL: Yeah. I think one of the things to think about when talking about sexual harassment in the workforce – and I think we’ve seen this from some of the reporting that’s come up – is it’s pervasive across all industries. I think the questions are really about what are some of the particulars of different industries, because the story’s the same.

I think what you see in book publishing and you see in other industries is – and one of the problems of sexual harassment is it’s such a difficult thing to weed out, because reporting on it for the victims, it really creates often very difficult scenarios.

KENNEALLY: PW heard from women who described harassment and assault that took place not only from 9 to 5 but also after hours.

DEAHL: Look, every industry obviously has a strong social component to it, but I think publishing is unique because so much of it does happen after hours, whether you’re talking about book fairs or you’re just talking about reading. And a lot of it’s happening with people who are involved in the industry in all sorts of ways – people who may work for a big corporate publisher or people who may be freelancers.

One of the difficulties that happen when you’re out socializing with colleagues, is that you think it’s still a continuation of work. You think you’re around your equals. You think it’s about work, and they’re really making it about something else, catching some women off guard in a way that they might not be caught off guard in a regular social situation.

KENNEALLY: Whether an organization serves only a local market or does business in many countries across the globe, executives recognize a duty to denounce unacceptable conduct. They also have a responsibility to welcome diversity and difference in the workplace, says UK-based Nancy Roberts, the founder and director at Business Inclusivity, a social enterprise working to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in corporate life. Publishers who set an inclusive tone will see a change in management and in the mirror.

Welcome to Beyond the Book, Nancy.

ROBERTS: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me on.

KENNEALLY: Why should anyone working in an organization aspiring to or in the role of a leader want to be an inclusive leader?

ROBERTS: That’s a really good question, and I think the emphasis on inclusion is important to me here. The business benefits of diversity are actually pretty well documented. So there’s a lot of research – some good from McKinsey proving that diverse teams have been shown to deliver greater profitability, to facilitate better decision-making, to generate more innovation. There’s lots of bottom-line and business benefits to it. But there’s also obviously the moral argument that diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do, so it can help with staff attraction and retention and it can build a happy workplace for your employees.

Simply putting a diversity strategy in place is probably not going to be enough. You really need to develop an inclusive culture so that those diversity strategies that bring different people into the business can create an environment where they’re going to succeed.

KENNEALLY: In Frankfurt, Germany, just before the start of the annual Book Fair, the STM Association of scholarly and scientific publishers, invited Copyright Clearance Center CEO Tracey Armstrong to moderate a discussion that explored how diversity and inclusion help to make an organization more productive and profitable. Armstrong asked panelist Leon Heward-Mills, Global Publishing Director at Taylor & Francis Group, how talent recruitment and retention have changed in an era of digital transformation.

ARMSTRONG: Who are your companies competing with for talent? And what does that patchwork quilt of companies and that ecosystem – how does that influence your need to transform your organization to be more inclusive and more diverse, so that this talent is willing to come and work for you, interesting in coming, compelled to come and join your employee group.

HEWARD MILLS: My career has been established in the U.K. – always worked within a global environment but within a publishing environment. It was very, very traditional. It started, for those who come from the U.K., with a job ad in The Guardian, and it went on from there. That’s how it used to be. And in terms of the questions that I was asked when I first came into publishing, they were very mundane.

But it’s entirely different now… We are becoming technologists now, so we are competing with those who are looking at the large technology firms, looking at the entrepreneurial take-up environment – startup environment – take-up – startup environment – and thinking about what is it like working in that – so I think we have to really rethink our whole strategy as far as talent acquisition is concerned.

I think we also have to bear in mind that the pool that we’re picking from is global as well, so we need to make sure that we’re not just looking at this from an Anglo-Saxon, Eurocentric point of view. We’ve got massive potential for growth in Asia Pacific, so we’re looking at how we’re engaging with markets, how we’re engaging with people there. So it’s really shaking up the whole approach that we’re taking.

KENNEALLY: Recent estimates put the number of academic journal articles published in a single year at more than one and a half million worldwide. But if you want to know how many of these are written by women, the answer is it’s complicated.

What sounds like a straightforward question opens the door for many others. How do women fare when it comes to publishing their scientific research? In principle, science should be indifferent to gender. But in practice, are women working on a level playing field?

Professor Cassidy Sugimoto of the School of Informatics & Computing at Indiana University, Bloomington examines the formal and informal ways in which knowledge producers consume and disseminate scholarship. Earlier this year, Professor Sugimoto and Vincent Lariviere of the Universite de Montreal responded to a report, Gender in the Global Research Landscape, that seemed to show women and men in the global research community were approaching parity.

As Sugimoto discovered, however, a gap persists.

SUGIMOTO: We’ve had so much research on gender and science. And most of it is focused on disparity or difference. We know that there are less women overall in the scientific workforce, and fewer women as you move up in the academic ladder. There are fewer women who receive elite prizes and fellowships, and women have a smaller piece of the pie in terms of research funding.

Women produce less on average than their male counterparts, and the work that they produce is cited less. Now, the Elsevier report was very exciting for us. It was impressive in coverage, relying on Elsevier’s Scopus database, and covered a longer period of time than most previous studies. And it demonstrated the growth of women over time. This was a really important finding, and one that hadn’t been done in previous studies.

KENNEALLY: Prof. Sugimoto currently serves as president of the International Society for Scientometrics & Informetrics, which focuses on quantitative approaches to the study of science. With that emphasis on the quantitative, she and Prof. Lariviere raised important questions about the report’s math work.

SUGIMOTO: So imagine all the papers that have at least one woman author. Now, imagine all the papers that have at least one male author. Now, think of all those papers that have both a female and a male author. And this represents the majority of all publications – about 60%. Now remember, those female papers – 94% of those also have a male author. So Elsevier found no difference between average citedness for papers.
And you can guess why. Because of the overlap, they were essentially measuring the same set of papers as both male papers and female papers.

KENNEALLY: Citation is the professional recognition of a work’s merit by colleagues, and citations play an important role in career advancement for academics and researchers. Frequent citation in prominent publications is the gold model of the research “Olympics.” Moreover, citations in leading journals are especially prized, and journals with high impact factors consistently attract submissions by top researchers. Prof. Sugimoto further wondered whether women performed as well as men in earning acceptance by high impact journals and, just as critically, in earning subsequent citations.

SUGIMOTO: In our subsequent study for the Elsevier report, we wanted to push it further – not just to see whether there was a disparity in citations, but to play around with that notion of the journal impact factor – and to test whether men and women were being accepted to journals of similar prestige. And we found, actually, that there was very little difference. Women and men tend to publish in journals with similar impact factors.

In fact, in many disciplines women were publishing in journals of higher impact factors than their male colleagues. However, within these journals, women’s papers were cited less. And this gap was particularly pronounced in journals of the highest impact factors. That is, women were making it through the selection process at journals like Science, and Nature, and PNAS, but they weren’t seeing the citation advantage of their male colleagues. So this suggests we need to look more deeply at issues of bias when examining gender disparities in science.

KENNEALLY: Diversity, tolerance and equal opportunity may be the ideals for our societies and our workplaces, but this year, the lesson for everyone is that we have to go. I’m Christopher Kenneally, looking back at 2017 for CCC’s Beyond the Book.

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