*Updated* Gender Bias Past & Present?

Web Editor’s Note: this post was updated on 30.11.16 to include a series of bar charts illustrating publication and submission statistics, between 2004 and 2016; by gender.

by Anna Bayman, Past & Present Associate Editor

In part as a response to the Royal Historical Society (RHS) report on gender equality and historians in higher education, Past & Present recently commissioned an analysis of submissions to the journal according to the author’s gender. We are pleased to report that this showed no discernible bias in the decisions made, with acceptance and rejection rates similar and steady over the last twelve years for men and women. The recent move to double-blind reviewing appears not to have affected these rates.

We do, however, note that we systematically receive fewer submissions from women, which we find regrettable. To some extent this might reflect an overall imbalance in the profession, but (using the RHS statistics on the number of female academic staff and students) that does not account for the degree of the disparity. We would welcome a conversation with the wider community about how this could be redressed.

We remain mindful of our responsibility to eliminate unconscious bias from peer review and would be glad of suggestions for reasonable ways for academic journals to identify and challenge it (bearing in mind that other factors, such as age and race, are less easy to ascertain than gender). Please comment, or join the conversation on Twitter @PastPresentSoc – perhaps someone could suggest a hashtag (#historybias?)…

Publications and submissions to Past & Present by gender 2004-16*


Past & Present submissions, publications and rejections by gender 2004-16 (all rights reserved Past & Present 2016)

*Statistics for 2016 are only for part of the year.

The RHS’ report can be read in full here.

For an interesting comparator, Lee Durbin has conducted an analysis of History Today’s published articles (by the gender of their author) for the year 2016.


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