22 Nov 2012

Nature’s acting against unconsious gender biases

Written by Olga Lukina, on the material provided by Lisbeth Fajstrup


Nature is acting on the fact that women are underrepresented in their News and Views articles: http://www.nature.com/news/nature-s-sexism-1.11850

Nature has assessed the percentage of women among their referees, profiled researchers, and externally written Comment and World View articles and found it very low. Although acknowledging that there must be a number of external factors contributing (such as the low percentage of women working in science), Nature believes that some of this situation may be due to unconscious biases, revealed by recent studies (we have also been reporting on these findings earlier). To overcome these biases, Nature launches an action.

We therefore believe that there is a need for every editor to work through a conscious loop before proceeding with commissioning: to ask themselves, “Who are the five women I could ask?”

Under no circumstances will this ‘gender loop’ involve a requirement to fulfill a quota or to select anyone whom we do not know to be fully appropriate for the job, although we will set ourselves internal targets to help us to focus on the task. It is not yet clear just what difference this workflow loop will make. But it seems to us to be a step towards appropriately reflecting in our pages the contributions of women to science.


Photo by FBK