Following up on previous discussion, I wanted to do another brief ‘case study’ of gendered citation. So I picked up, at random, a recent issue of an elite philosophy journal. (And yes, it really was at random.) Here’s what I found.
There are three papers in the issue. All are by men.
One paper’s reference list contains approximately 30 items. There are no items by women cited.
Another paper’s reference list contains approximately 70 items. Things look better here – there are 11 items by women cited. Interestingly, though, 10 of the 11 citations to work by women are citations to women employed in linguistics departments. There is only 1 cited item by a woman employed in a philosophy department. This citation is in a footnote, pointing the reader to a separate debate.
The final paper’s reference list contains approximately 20 items. There is 1 item by a woman cited. When you examine the reference in the text, however, the reader is actually being directed to a male philosopher’s discussion (‘see Mr. X’s discussion of Ms. Y’), and the work written by a woman is simply cited in passing.
There is nowhere in any of these (quite lengthy) papers where the work of female philosophers is discussed in any detail. In the entire issue, there are only two references to female philosophers, and these are both made in passing.
Again, there’s a limited amount we can learn from a citation snapshot like this. (Though watch this space – we’re hoping to have some more numbers about gender and citation up soon.) But it’s striking that female philosophers could be so absent from the discussion in a top journal – even a single issue of a top journal. And I wouldn’t be surprised (though we’ll have to wait for more data) to learn that the particular issue I picked up isn’t exactly an egregious outlier when it comes to gendered citation.