Double-blind peer review reveals gender bias

Double-blind peer review, in which neither author nor reviewer identity are revealed, was introduced by the journal Behavioral Ecology in 2001. Amber E. Budden et al., in an article published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution this month (Trends Ecol. Evol. 23, 4-6; 2008) report “a significant increase in female first-authored papers” compared with a similar journal, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. From the authors’ conclusions:

“A difference of 7.9% in the proportion of female first-authored papers following the implementation of double-blind review in BE is ”“>three times greater than the recorded increase in female ecology graduates in the USA across the same time period and represents a 33% increase in the representation of female authors. Furthermore, this increased representation of female authors more accurately reflects the ”">(US) life sciences academic workforce composition, which is 37% female.

The consequences of this shift could extend beyond publications. If females are less successful in publishing research on account of their gender, then given the current practices associated with appointment and tenure, and the need for women dramatically to out-compete their male counterparts to be perceived as equal [C. Wenneras and A. Wold, Nepotism and sexism in peer-review, Nature 387 341–343; 1997] any such publication bias impedes the progress of women to more advanced professional stages."


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    Wendy Ragiste said:

    I’m sure this comes as no great surprise to anyone. I’d be interested to know what effect it had on the statistics for ethnic origin of the authors.

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