Revisiting: Why Aren’t There More Women at the Top in Scholarly Publishing?

Alice Meadows   |    March 10, 2022

I was prompted to write this post back in 2013 because I had recently reached a point in my career when, instead of being surrounded by other women — above, below, and beside me in terms of seniority — the number of female role models was shrinking fast. As I wrote then, this was by no means unique to our industry. So, have things changed for the better since then? And are the suggestions for addressing the lack of women at the top of scholarly publishing I made then still relevant today?

One obvious sign of progress is the fact that two of the four largest scholarly publishers are now led by women: Elsevier (Kumsal Bayazit) and Taylor & Francis (Annie Callanan). The less good news is that, with the exception of Elsevier, which is now almost 50/50, with eight men and seven women, the leadership teams of the big four are still predominantly male (Springer Nature: six men, two women; Taylor & Francis: eight men, three women; and Wiley: seven men, four women). GIven that our industry is around 60-65% female, even Elsevier has a way to go before it is truly representative. And, based on the companies I’m familiar with, I’d put money on there still being many fewer women than men in the upper echelons of scholarly publishing.

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