Gender Gaps in Perceptions of Political Science Journals

Nadia E. Brown, Yusaku Horiuchi, Mala Htun, David Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The gender publication gap puts women at a disadvantage for tenure and promotion, which contributes to the discipline's leaky pipeline. Several studies published in PS find no evidence of gender bias in the review process and instead suggest that submission pools are distorted by gender. To make a contribution to this important debate, we fielded an original survey to a sample of American Political Science Association members to measure participants' perceptions of political science journals. Results reveal that the gender submission gap is accompanied by a gender perception gap at some but not all political science journals we study. Women report that they are more likely to submit to and get published in some journals, whereas men report as such with regard to other journals. Importantly, these gaps are observed even among scholars with the same methodological (i.e., quantitative or qualitative) approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1. This article is a product of the American Political Science Association Presidential Task Force on Women’s Advancement. We presented an earlier version at the Journal Editors’ Breakfast at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association on September 1, 2018 and at the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting on May 30, 2019; at faculty search workshops at the University of New Mexico; and at seminars at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at the University of Oregon. We are grateful for help with the survey from Brittany Ortiz, Betsy Super, and APSA and useful comments from participants at these conferences, workshops, and seminars, as well as Lisa Baldez, Deborah Brooks, John Carey, Katie Clayton, Francesca Jensenius, Frances Rosenbluth, Jane Lawrence Sumner, Julie Lynch, and Dawn Teele. This material is based in part on work supported by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program under Grant No. 1628471. A replication package with de-identified data is available at Yusaku Horiuchi’s Dataverse ( ). 2. Although presented as studies of bias, these observational (i.e., non-experimental) studies are unable strictly to causally identify the presence or absence of gender bias. To rule out bias, researchers would need to randomly assign men’s and women’s names to papers to eliminate other confounding factors. Nevertheless, these studies demonstrate that acceptance rates for the five journals are not statistically indistinguishable between men and women, conditional on submission. We thank one anonymous reviewer for insisting on this point. 3. In contrast, another study suggests that the share of women authors overall has grown over time (König and Ropers 2018 ). 4. We refer to gender differences in answers to these questions as “gender perception gaps” because we believe that scholars’ intentions to submit a manuscript to a journal, and the subjective likelihood of getting it published there, are a function of their opinions and impressions of a journal. 5. For further details and discussions of the sample and survey, see supplementary materials A and B. 6. For simplicity, the ordinal response questions are treated as continuous variables. See supplementary materials B for the classification of quantitative and qualitative scholars in our survey. 7. Figure 2 shows that women quantitative scholars state that they are less likely than men to get published at Polity , whereas qualitative scholars overall are more likely to publish in the journal (see figure C.11 in the supplementary materials). 8. We do not report results of this multivariate-regression analysis as our main findings because gender is causally prior to all of these variables added to the analysis. Thus, adding these variables introduces a methodological problem of post-treatment bias. Examining the causal effects of gender as a variable is inherently difficult. 9. See supplementary materials B for a discussion of categories and coding. 10. It also could be the case that women scholars are more likely to underestimate the quality of their work and therefore are less likely to submit to general journals that often are referred to as “top journals”—in the same way that women candidates are more likely to understate their qualifications for political office (Lawless and Fox 2005 ). 11. See the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment ( ).

Publisher Copyright:
© American Political Science Association 2019.


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