Gender bias when assessing recommended ecology articles

Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Franck Courchamp

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Gender bias is still unfortunately rife in the sciences, and men co-author most articles (> 70%) in ecology. Whether ecologists subconsciously rate the quality of their peers’ work more favourably when they are the same gender (homophily) is still unclear. To test this hypothesis, we examined how ecologist editorsranked important ecology articles based on a previously compiled list where they had first each proposed some articles and then voted on all proposed articles. The proportion of female co-authors on the articles proposed by men were lower (0.06 to 0.09) than those proposed by women (0.13 to 0.27), although thedata were highly skewed and most proposed articles (77%) had no female co-authors. For the 100 topranked articles voted by women or men only, the gender difference remained: female voters ranked articles in the top 100 that had more female co-authors (0.029 to 0.093 proportion women) than did those votedby men (0.001 to 0.029). Female voters tended to rank articles more highly as the number of male coauthors increased, and the relationship between article rank and proportion of male co-authors was even stronger when only men voted. This effect disappeared after testing only articles that editors declared they had actually read. This could indicate a persistent, subconscious tendency toward homophily when assessing the perceived quality of articles that ecologists have not actually read.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalRethinking Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Franck Courchamp. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • gender
  • ecology
  • evolution
  • scientific publishing
  • homophily
  • disparity


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