Women Are Underrepresented and Receive Differential Outcomes at ASM Journals: a Six-Year Retrospective Analysis


Despite 50% of biology Ph.D. graduates being women, the number of women that advance in academia decreases at each level (e.g., from graduate to postdoctorate to tenure track). Recently, scientific societies and publishers have begun examining internal submissions data to evaluate representation and evaluation of women in their peer review processes; however, representation and attitudes differ by scientific field, and to date, no studies have investigated academic publishing in the field of microbiology. Using manuscripts submitted between January 2012 and August 2018 to the 15 journals published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), we describe the representation of women at ASM journals and the outcomes of their manuscripts. Senior women authors at ASM journals were underrepresented compared to global and society estimates of microbiology researchers. Additionally, manuscripts submitted by corresponding authors that were women received more negative outcomes than those submitted by men. These negative outcomes were somewhat mediated by whether or not the corresponding author was based in the United States and by the type of institution for United States-based authors. Nonetheless, the pattern for women corresponding authors to receive more negative outcomes on their submitted manuscripts held. We conclude with suggestions to improve the representation of women and decrease structural penalties against women.

Ada K. Hagan

I am a microbiologist with a passion for making science accessible. I hope to use my background in communications and higher education to help make scientific concepts more easily understood and make the academy more inclusive to future scientists from all backgrounds.