From boingboing, here‘s an example of how not to promote disciplinary diversity. And, if you scroll to the bottom, also a handy example from Elsevier’s Tom Reller of how not to respond to legitimate concerns about gender exclusive advertizing.
Hypatia survey results: Where to publish? April 15, 2013
Hypatia editors have sent us an updated version of the survey of alternative venues for publishing originally posted at the Hypatia website here (pdf); since that link isn’t yet updated, we are posting the full updated survey here, as a separate page on our blog with a tab that will remain above until the new Hypatia editors update the old webpage or make a new one. We will provide an update when the Hypatia website is updated or changed, but in the meantime, enjoy!
Sexism at Science Journal Nature November 27, 2012
A pretty striking statement about the underrepresentation of women from the Editors at Nature. A cause for cautious optimism? Might have been nice if they’d said more about what those ‘unconscious factors’ are, but the resulting heuristic is still a promising one:
We believe that in commissioning articles or in thinking about who is doing interesting or relevant work, for all of the social factors already mentioned, and possibly for psychological reasons too, men most readily come to editorial minds. The September paper speculated about an unconscious assumption that women are less competent than men. A moment’s reflection about past and present female colleagues should lead most researchers to correct any such assumption.
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?”
APA: Best Practices in Journal Publishing July 8, 2012
UPDATED: It was brought to my attention that the Handbook on Placement was similarly unsung and behind a subscription-only firewall. I’ve added that to the Publications page of the Status of Women site (linked to below).
I’ve posted this on the offsite webpage of the Committee on the Status of Women:
The May 2012 issue of the APA Proceedings ( Vol. 85, No. 5) includes a statement on Best Practices for Journals on pp. 59-63, which we excerpt here [full text linked there] for those who cannot access the Publications available on the Members Only site of APAonline.
This was drafted by many members including those on the Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession, and journal editors such as Thom Brooks and Carol Gould, and includes the following sections:
I Guidelines for Journals
II Guidelines for Authors
III Guidelines for Referees
IV Editorial Practices Related to Copyright and Publication.
Thanks to all those who worked on and deliberated over the Statement!
On Getting a Job (and Publications!) in Philosophy June 7, 2012
A reader (thanks TB!) directs us to a typically lively discussion that occurred over at The Philosophy Smoker at the end of April concerning Carolyn Dicey Jennings’s data on hiring in Philosophy in the past year. Dicey Jennings reports that
…overall prospects are at around 24% chance of getting any job, 17% chance of getting any tenure-track job, 6% chance of getting a ranked tenure-track job.
…one’s overall chance of getting any job (post-doc or tenure-track) coming from an NRC ranked institution may be as high as 51%, 39% for any tenure-track job, and 11% for a ranked tenure-track job.
if you are a woman from an NRC ranked department looking for a ranked job, your chances might be around 9%, whereas if you are looking for a tenure-track job in general they at are around 44%. If you are a woman from an NRC ranked school looking for a post-doc, be advised that only 15% of ranked women achieved post-docs this year (5 out of 34 ranked post-doc achievers), whether or not the post-doc was itself ranked. Because of that fact, the chance of a woman from an NRC ranked department getting a tenure-track job or post-doc is about the same as for a man from these departments: 51%.
The comment thread is worth a look too. The discussion ranges from Dicey Jennings’s methodology to differentials in publishing rates between men and women (as reported by Dicey Jennings). Our reader highlights as especially interesting the following comment:
There are a lot of things that can affect publication rates that
aren’t just straightforward discrimination by editors (though 8:24
does target an important problem for women – and, by association, men
- working in certain areas). Feeling encouraged and like one’s ideas
are worth publishing can contribute greatly to publishing rates. It is
often very hard to know oneself whether one’s ideas are worthwhile, or
just “obvious”. I can really only speak from my own point of view on
this, but this means I end up publishing only things that seem really
clearly worthwhile to me (although I’m not a perfect judge of such
things). Which means I pass up on publishing things that are probably
publishable somewhere, which would up my publication rate…but that I
don’t think would make me a better candidate.
As our reader points out, the above comment is especially timely “in light of the one year anniversary of the APA [Mentoring Project] , which was focused on supporting increasing publications.”
Books and bookmen (mostly) February 11, 2011
Here’s an article from Salon by Laura Miller about the “literature gender gap”, and I don’t quite know what to make of it. The standfirst is pretty blunt: “women are under-represented in literary publishing because men aren’t interested in what they have to say”. Really?
There are some data in the article, and some speculation. Here are the data, which are partly derived from what Ruth Franklin says here in the New Republic:
- In literary publications, the majority of contributions are by men;
- In literary publications, the majority of reviews are by men;
- In literary publications, the majority of books reviewed are by men;
- The majority of books published are by men;
- Women read and buy far more books than men.
Now, (1) and (2) are depressing but familiar findings, mentioned at the beginning but not really addressed in the rest of the Miller article. (4) is her main focus. It is cited as a reasonable explanation of (3), and the question then is, why does (4) happen when (5) is the case? Wouldn’t one expect women to want to read books by women, and thus, wouldn’t one expect the book trade to publish at least as many books by women as by men?
Using a mixture of anecdotal and survey evidence, Miller then says that women in fact tend to read books by men and women more or less equally, while men tend to read far more books by men than by women. Thus, a publisher can be reasonably sure of selling books by men to both men and women, but a book by a woman is more of a gamble, since only half the potential market is at all likely to buy it. So publishers, being risk-averse, mostly publish books by men. Therefore, the problem — the reason why publishers mostly publish books by men — is that men are not interested in what women have to say.
There is something fishy about this argument, I’m sure. But what, exactly? If, for example, women buy far more books than men, why does publishing a book by a woman represent a significantly higher risk? That seems rather weak reasoning.
Most speculatively, I wonder if there’s a difference between two claims: men are not interested in what women say (publish), and men are not interested in what women have to say (would like to publish). Based entirely on my own reading of novels and reviews of them, it would seem that women tend to publish more in the way of realist, domestic novels, in which truths of modern life are revealed indirectly by the study of some set of protagonists. Men do publish some of these, but are far more likely to publish Big Novels with Big Ideas and all sorts of stylistic, formal, technical innovations (I’m talking, by the way, about literary fiction, in some loose sense that contrasts with commercial fiction and genre fiction — and I’m assuming that the points I’m making would apply also to literary non-fiction and poetry).
That’s all very generalised, of course, but bear with me. It may be the case that men are more likely to read big abstract novels, and to not much care for the domestic stuff; and that the audience for the domestic stuff is thus mostly women. Again, pure anecdote seems to support this; women I know read both sorts of novel, men tend to just or mostly read the abstract stuff. There is a lot to be said about why these differences in taste emerge, and I won’t go into that here. The point I was wondering about is this: do women publish more domestic novels because they want to, or because they are encouraged to? That is, are men not interested in what women have to say, or what they do say? Because it seems to me quite unlikely that there are far fewer women than men who are able and keen to write big, abstract, technically clever books. So, in slight contrast with the conclusion that Miller draws, I would be tempted to say that men are uninterested in what women do say, but not in what they have to say.
This is about male readers, obviously. The remaining question is why women are perhaps discouraged from writing the kind of stuff men might like to read. Here, perhaps, we might in fact end up blaming men’s bias. As Franklin mentions in the New Republic, the first step to a book contract is often publication of something short in a journal of some sort; and women write just one third of such publications; and the ‘gatekeepers’ tend to be men. So it could be that the blame should be apportioned, not so much to the curious male reader browsing in the bookshop, but more to the men at journals, and publishing houses, who select which women get to the bookshop, and who perhaps tend to favour more stereotypically feminine subject matter from women writers. Perhaps these places should adopt an anonymous review system? Or do they already do that?
None of this seems quite satisfactory, though. As Miller says, the problem seems to be peculiarly entrenched. I suspect that what we have is a complex pattern of biases and imbalances that reinforce mutually, to the extent that it’s hard to single out one group, or one bias, and say that that is the cause of literary gender gaps. But I’d be interested in what other people think. Can we blame, for example, publishers, or readers? Do men really, actually, ignore books simply on the basis of the author’s name? Is any of the speculation about tastes and so on that I’ve indulged in accurate?
(Thanks, M and S!)
The hard truth about soft covers? December 9, 2009
A philosopher writes me:
I’m considering a book contract … Part of the deal is that the book would only come out in hardcover initially, with the paperback version to appear on an on-demand basis a year later. I’m nervous about this, because it would seem to make class adoption of the book far less likely. But I’m starting to get the sense that this approach is more and more common.
Do tell, philosophers: Is it increasingly the case that paperback editions are less likely to be offered by publishers than in the past? (I hope it is not so, because if we are working to make it more likely that feminist texts are adopted for classroom use, then alas, it would seem such a trend is counter to our aims.) Comments welcome, especially if you have a sense of the state of academic publishing.