New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2014) 38(2): 335- 339

Is there gender bias in reviewer selection and publication success rates for the New Zealand Journal of Ecology?

Short Communication
Hannah L. Buckley 1,*
Amber R. Sciligo 2
Karen L. Adair 3
Bradley S. Case 1
Joanne M. Monks 4
  1. Department of Ecology, PO Box 85084, Lincoln University, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand
  2. Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, University of California, Berkeley, 139 Mulford Hall #3114, Berkeley CA, 94720-3114, USA
  3. Bio-Protection Research Centre, PO Box 85084, Lincoln University 7647, Lincoln, New Zealand
  4. Department of Conservation, PO Box 5244, Dunedin 9058, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Gender bias in the sciences is a prominent issue. Evidence suggests that more equal involvement of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields leads to a diversity of working styles that can contribute to multiple measures of workplace success, such as better student outcomes in university settings and improved managerial approaches. One of the main ways we can combat gender bias is by increasing awareness. Thus, to directly draw attention to this issue for New Zealand ecologists, we performed a gender analysis of the publication process in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology (NZJE) for manuscripts reviewed between 2003 and 2012. First, we compared the frequencies of publication success between female and male authors. Second, we compared the frequencies of female and male reviewers selected by both female and male associate editors on the journal’s editorial board from 2010 to 2012. Results show that publication success was not biased by gender, nor was it related to the gender of the editor. However, editors selected more male reviewers and this pattern was slightly more pronounced for male editors, suggesting that there is potential for at least some associate editors to reduce gender bias in their reviewer selections. We believe this will become easier with the development of the new reviewer database and mentoring scheme recently launched by the NZJE. It is important that publication of ecological research in New Zealand is unbiased so that the growing numbers of women in this field are not disadvantaged, and our results show that the NZJE is doing a good job at this. However, it is also important that women’s contributions to the field are encouraged and recognised. We believe that reviewer selection is one way to enhance this and we strongly encourage early-career female ecologists to enrol in the NZJE mentoring scheme.