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

Sociology
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One Response to The Gender Gap in Sociological Scholarship

  1. Khari Brown says:

    Do they have anlyses on racial differences?

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