The Gender Gap in Sociological Scholarship

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently highlighted research by Jennifer Jacquet and Jevin D. West on the gender gap in various academic disciplines. Using JSTOR data, they estimated the proportion of research articles men wrote in each field. While authors don’t provide their sex as part of the abstract, first names are often strong clues, so they were able to impute the likely sex of the author based on the Social Security name files.

According to the West and Jacquet data, the proportion of female authors in sociology grew from 27% in the 1970s and 1980s to 42% in the 1990s and 2000s. In comparison, economics went from 6% female to 14% and political science went from around 10% female to 19%. The authors also provide some interesting statistics on subfields, although the categories don’t always match up to the specialties sociologists are familiar with (e.g. while “social movements” is listed as a subfield, the authors list “problem of agency” as the largest area of interest within it.)

Since I already have similar data from Web of Science, I thought it would be interesting to run the same sort of analysis to look at the gender gap within and between US sociological journals. For this purpose, I defined a sociological journal as one where a majority of the authors who provided a department affiliation were associated with a department that had sociology as part of the title (e.g. “Department of Sociology” or “Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice”) and where the journal has significant editorial presence in the United States. This totals 49 journals. Web of Science provides the full name of authors in the download files only for articles published since 2008 (weird, right?), so I only examined articles published since then. For each article author, I looked up whether the first name was primarily (>80%) associated with baby boy or girl names for children in the Social Security data for those born between 1945 and 1970. This process classified the vast majority of authors who provided first names, but a larger number of people provided only a first initial, thwarting simple classification. I combined these two types of cases into one “ambiguous” category.

In the table below, I sort the journals based on the percentage of authors who are female. I also list the number of gender ambiguous authors, but they aren’t part of the denominator. The totals are based on the number of times a name appears, so a person who writes three articles for the same journal contributes to the totals three times.

Journal

Male

Female

Ambiguous

% Female
Gender & Society

26

155

25

85.6%
Feminist Criminology

27

111

15

80.4%
Social Politics

21

84

19

80%
Teaching Sociology

61

125

10

67.2%
Journal of Marriage & Family

265

543

175

67.2%
Qualitative Sociology

45

73

15

61.9%
Sociology of Health & Illness

266

418

84

61.1%
Journal of Health & Social Behavior

133

201

36

60.2%
Work & Occupations

46

54

18

54%
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

77

86

14

52.8%
Sociological Inquiry

92

92

16

50%
Sociological Perspectives

83

82

32

49.7%
Sociological Forum

123

117

30

48.8%
Sociology of Education

73

69

22

48.6%
Homicide Studies

99

92

22

48.2%
Population Research & Policy Review

181

153

79

45.8%
Social Science Research

421

346

166

45.1%
Sociological Spectrum

135

109

29

44.7%
Poetics

91

73

46

44.5%
Rural Sociology

120

93

26

43.7%
Punishment & Society

73

55

33

43%
Social Problems

124

93

15

42.9%
Symbolic Interaction

109

79

26

42%
International Migration Review

143

103

51

41.9%
Mobilization

75

54

33

41.9%
Annual Review of Sociology

95

68

22

41.7%
Sociological Quarterly

113

76

28

40.2%
Deviant Behavior

184

122

29

39.9%
Social Psychology Quarterly

79

50

22

38.8%
Ethnography

54

34

24

38.6%
Demography

301

189

98

38.6%
Social Forces

322

201

91

38.4%
Social Compass

66

40

32

37.7%
American Sociological Review

212

123

65

36.7%
Theoretical Criminology

75

43

10

36.4%
City & Community

72

40

17

35.7%
American Journal of Sociology

193

105

44

35.2%
Sociology of Religion

74

36

15

32.7%
Sociological Methodology

41

18

22

30.5%
Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion

259

113

61

30.4%
Review of Religious Research

165

63

31

27.6%
Theory & Society

86

32

28

27.1%
Criminology

244

88

57

26.5%
Sociological Theory

62

22

12

26.2%
Sociological Methods & Research

117

38

45

24.5%
Socio-Economic Review

106

30

18

22.1%
Social Networks

221

62

70

21.9%
Journal of Mathematical Sociology

58

16

20

21.6%

Overall, 14% of names can’t be easily categorized. Of those that can be categorized, 45% are female names and 55% are male names. [Update: 53% of ASA members are female.] Journals dealing explicitly with gender issues have the highest proportion of female authorship, while methods and theory journals have the highest concentration of male authors. All four of the top general interest research journals have lower rates of female authorship than the population as a whole, but there is significant variation within the group, ranging from AJS with 35% of female authors to 43% for Social Problems. In contrast, the lower visibility general interest journals, such as Sociological Perspective and Sociological Inquiry, all have higher rates of female participation.

[Update: Philip Cohen published one of his great blog posts on gender segregation in sociology. Make sure to visit the comments on that thread.]

Additional analysis, available from the first author, shows no gender gap in who gets to be first author when men and women co-publish. This analysis will perhaps get its own post, as this null finding is substantively interesting.

About Neal Caren

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One Response to The Gender Gap in Sociological Scholarship

  1. Khari Brown says:

    Do they have anlyses on racial differences?