Editorial brainstorming session at the Santa Fe Institute. Pictured clockwise from left: Elisabeth Wood, Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, Julie Novkov, Aili Mari Tripp (on screen, upper left), Lisa García Bedolla (on screen, lower center), Sharon Wright Austin, Michelle Dion, Denise Walsh, and Dara Strolovitch. Not pictured: Kelly Kadera, Clarissa Hayward, and Laurel Weldon.

The top journals in political science publish little on race or gender. By one count, only about 2% of articles in the flagship American Political Science Review (APSR) between 2000 and 2015 focused on gender or sexuality, and only about 4% on ethnicity or race. 

Moreover, there is a gender gap in who gets published. Even though 40% of political scientists who finish their PhD programs are women, when it comes to publications and citations in top journals, the balance tilts strongly in another direction: women comprised 18-24% of the authors of articles in the top three journals from 2000-2015. The pattern continues in 2019, with women accounting for just 15% of authors in the first three issues of the APSR this year.

According to former SFI faculty member and Yale political scientist Elisabeth Jean Wood, the gaps are linked: beginning with their doctoral dissertations, women (and minority scholars) focus on gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race more than men.

An incoming editorial team for the APSR — all of them women — aims to confront these issues head-on, beginning with a brainstorming retreat which was held July 17-19 at the Santa Fe Institute.

Wood and her team applied for the editorship in October 2018, competing with other teams who responded to the call for applications for new editors from the American Political Science Association.

“In political science, as in many of the social sciences, there’s a big gender gap in publications and citations, for a variety of reasons” Wood says. “And the contrast between pressing issues in politics and those most published in the top political science journals is striking. When this group of women organized, we said, ‘Ok. We’re going to propose to run this journal and transform it to meet some of these gaps.’ And we got the appointment.”

In their official statement of acceptance, the team states their commitment to publishing well-executed, problem-driven scholarship while broadening the pool of contributors. Wood notes that diversity goes hand-in-hand with quality, robustness, and innovation, as research by SFI’s Scott Page, Mirta Galesic, Hyejin Youn and others has shown.

Jennifer Dunne, SFI’s VP for Science, affirms that there’s an oft-invoked "false dichotomy between quality and diversity,” that persists despite research that shows their mutual benefit. By bringing the incoming APSR editorial team to SFI to explicitly discuss issues like gender balance and diversity in academic publishing, the SFI community benefits from their insights. Dunne says: “It’s a great opportunity to meet some of the top political scientists, who also happen to be women.”

The new team will assume editorial control of the APSR in June of 2020.  

Read the APSA's announcement of the new editorial team (July 26, 2019)