A majority of graduate students in ecology are female, but the pipeline sure is leaky. Maybe it’s because of Ye Olde Career/Motherhood Issues (can’t dive with a baby), maybe it’s because women burn to nuture non-profits instread of cut academic throats, maybe we are all just delicate blooms perishing away in the burning Science Sun. Or maybe not.
To test the idea, [a study in Trends in Ecology & Evolution] looked at the journal Behavioral Ecology, that instituted a double blind peer review process in 2001 – so, not only do authors not know who is reviewing their papers, but reviewers don’t know the names of the authors. The relative proportion of female first author papers increased.
Even controlled for the increasing number of female ecologists, this represents a 33% increase in the representation of female authors. Just from going double-blind during the review process. Go read the rest of Jarrett’s post for pretty graphs and more disturbing facts.
This fairly huge bias, unconcious though it may be, is terrifying to a baby scientist of the XX persuasion. The vast majority of journals are not double-blind. When I eventually get published, I will probably use my first and middle initials – and not just because that gives me the rockin’ moniker MC Goldstein.