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Women, Academic Publishing and Covid-19
While the Covid-19 pandemic is touching every one of us, we know the burdens of this crisis are not shared equally. The equality and diversity implications are very real – not only in our personal lives but also our professional opportunities. The sudden move to online teaching, assumption of increased caring responsibilities, and home schooling, have resulted in a significant re-calibration of workloads for many colleagues. Most obviously, women are disproportionately affected.
Concerns that many women’s capacity to research and publish their work has taken a huge hit overnight are being voiced across the academy. Journal editors in STEM subjects have been particularly alert to an alarming drop-off in submissions from women. Let us reassure colleagues that at the PSA we are monitoring our journals’ submissions carefully. The data (based on the submitting author’s gender) – comparing submissions made in March and April 2019 and 2020 respectively – do not show any fall. Rather, this year sees an increase of just over 20% for both women and men
This does not mean, though, that there is ‘nothing to see here’. Longer research and writing times in the social sciences suggests that the EDI impacts of Covid-19 on publishing may remain invisible for some months. Given this, we will continue to track the data each month and work with our editors, specialist groups and publisher SAGE to do what we can to mitigate those being disproportionately impacted.
Beyond our own journals, and the business of publishing our standard research, it is clear that women in other disciplines are less able to exploit some of the immediate publishing and research grant opportunities relating directly to the study of Covid-19. This recent evidence from economics is sobering. Of course, publishing is only one activity in the academic eco-system where women may be further disadvantaged: research projects may be paused; leadership roles reluctantly refused; and review work impossible.
We wrote recently about our profound concerns about the jeopardy our ECR colleagues are in. We are similarly alive to the risk that academic women’s careers may be set back in the longer-term. The PSA cannot magic away these concerns. But, we can make clear that we are aware of these issues; promise to speak up on them to policymakers strongly and frequently; and seek to work with our journal editors, and with our membership as a whole, to find ways to support those of our members most profoundly affected by the multiple implications of Covid-19.
Professor Claire Dunlop is the Vice-Chair of the Political Studies Association. Professor Roger Awan-Scully is the Chair of the Political Studies Association.
 To ensure an inclusive approach to data collection, submitting authors are asked their gender identity in the following terms – female, male, nonbinary or prefer not to say.