#guestpost: #research: More on the underrepresentation of women in psychology journals

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(Posted with permission from the author from the FWSA blog.)

In a previous post at the FWSA blog I discussed the underrepresentation of women as authors of articles in academic psychology journals. I presented the table shown below which demonstrates the number of women authors compared to male authors in seven psychology journals between the years 1997 to 2010. Among these journals was The Scandinavian Journal of Psychologywhich I hypothesised would show the highest representation of women as authors in comparison to the other six journals because of the Scandinavian countries progressive laws concerning work and family, which are believed to be favourable to women.

Interestingly I found that The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology was the journal with the lowest amount of articles authored by women and therefore the highest underrepresentation of women authors. The other journals that I compared The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology to were: Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Review of General Psychology, Teaching of Psychology, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology and Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

I was quite surprised over the results and decided to take a look at a larger number of journals. I wanted to compare The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology to other journals that were “country specific”. Of course this is no neat way of looking at countries or continents as such but it could provide clues to how much a country or a journal of specific country cares about promoting gender equality in academia. To do this I examined issues from six journals: British Journal of Psychology, Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, The American Journal of Psychology, Swiss Journal of Psychology, North American Journal of Psychology and Australian Journal of Psychology. All journals were accessed through University College Dublin online library’s electronic journal search. To match the previous study and the table I presented there, I examined issues between 1997 and 2010. For two of the journals, Swiss Journal of Psychologyand North American Journal of Psychology there were no issues in 1997. For these two journals the earliest available issues were recorded from 1999.

The earliest common issue for the majority of journals were from 1997 and the analysis include issues between 1997 and 2010. All issues for each journal and for each year were systematically reviewed and the sex of the author was recorded on the basis of first name. Authorship was separately recorded for each year and then pooled together in order to carry out the comparison. Statistical analysis consisted of Chi-square with an expected representation of 30 percent for men and 70 percent for women (to reflect the estimated number of women and men in psychology). Significance was recorded for p<.001,p<.01 and *p<.05 where it applied, meaning that when the significance, as displayed by the number of stars () reflects the percentage that the results are reliable and that the results did not occur randomly or by chance. Therefore, a study with p<.001 displays high reliability of significance of findings.

The number of women who have authored academic journals between 1997/1999 and 2010 inCJEP, BJP, AMJP, SWJP, NAJP & AJP

The number of female authors is presented first and total authorship appears in parenthesis. Results do not include authors unidentifiable by first name. BJP= British Journal of Psychology; CJEP= Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology; AMJP= The American Journal of Psychology; SWJP= Swiss Journal of Psychology; NAJP= North American Journal of Psychology; AJP= Australian Journal of Psychology. 

From the results, and in comparison with previous journals (a total of now thirteen journals) we can see that there are large differences in the representation of women as authors of articles in academic journals. When we look at the statistical analysis all journals underrepresent women based on the estimated numbers of men and women in psychology and all do so with statistical significance. Below we can see that all of the journals in this study had higher representations of women as authors than The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. It remains the journal out of the thirteen examined that has the highest underrepresentation of female authors.

If we look at the country or continent specific journals there are also large differences. Out of these journals the Australian Journal of Psychology was the journal that best represented women authors. Second was the North American Journal of Psychology followed by the Swiss Journal of Psychology and the Canadian Journal of Psychology. The American Journal of Psychology and the British Journal of Psychology displayed very low representation of women as authors and lastly The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology again displayed the lowest representation of women as authors of articles in academic psychology journals.

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Elin Weiss has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from University College Dublin. Some of her previous work can be found online at: The F-Word, XY-online, Sex Roles and Metapsychology Online Reviews.