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Scholarly Publishing Demographic Survey Reveals Major Diversity Challenges in Scholarly Publishing #STMchallenges

10th December 2015
 | Katy Alexander

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Findings from an analysis of a scholarly demographic publishing survey 2015 conducted by Digital Science and others*, reveals there are fewer women in top management roles and a lack of ethnic diversity.

The analysis conducted by Digital Science, Fordham University School of Business, SSP, ALPSP, STM, CSE* ran from December 2014 to January 2015. The survey shows that although there is a majority of women in scholarly publishing, there are proportionately fewer women in management roles. Findings also reveal, there is a lack of ethnic diversity in the scholarly publishing industry, which showed 87% of workers as caucasian.

The survey elicited 828 responses from 33 countries with a response rate of 13.5% from 6,121 society contacts.

A higher percentage of men report working in technology (24% vs 12%), new ventures (25% vs 18%), and management roles (50% vs. 44%), and a higher percentage of women in editorial, production, and marketing roles. These trends are also borne out in the university press data gleaned from the American Association of University Presses directory, showing more women in key management role like design, production, and finance, but significantly more men in press directorships – 58% vs. 42%. However, there is a majority of women in the academic publishing profession overall, with 62.6% female and 35.8% male (1.6% of respondents declined to identify their gender).

Professor Albert Greco, Fordham University says of the survey:

Scholarly publishing plays a pivotal role in the dissemination of research. While a great deal is known about the companies active in this sector, very little in known about the employees of the firms that edit, produce, market, and distribute today’s scholarly books and journals. Based on an international survey of scholarly publishing employees that was conducted in late 2014, the authors present detailed demographic information about the employees of scholarly publishing firms that illustrates the considerable strengths and challenges confronting the scholarly publishing sector in the 21st Century.

The raw data from the analysis can be found on Figshare here and here and below you can find an infographic highlighting some of the key results.

What can we do? We want to hear from you! #ChallengeSTM 

Having carried out this survey, Digital Science are keen to take this discussion further. So we’re excited to announce, on Ada Lovelace’s 200th birthday, that we will run a series on the Perspectives blog with a collection of opinion pieces from across the scholarly research community. It’s our hope this sparks on open, honest discussion that addresses the challenges and hopefully proposes solutions to the demographic issues highlighted in the survey.

We’re accepting proposals for opinion pieces, so if you want to contribute this series, please do get in touch.   To keep up with this initiative, follow along on #STMchallenges.