Ladies, gentlemen, and scientific publication at the Royal Society, 1945-1990

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This paper extends the scholarship on gender and scientific authorship by exploring women’s involvement in editorial decision-making. Prior to 1945, women scientists could submit their work to the journals of the Royal Society, but they were excluded from all editorial and evaluation roles: such gate-keeping roles were reserved for Fellows of the Society. We draw upon the Society’s archive to examine the experiences of female authors, referees, and communicators in the period after women were admitted to the Fellowship. We investigate the involvement of women in both anonymous roles (e.g. as referees), and in publicly-visible positions of editorial responsibility (e.g. as communicators, and committee chairs). We reveal that women were better represented in both types of roles in the 1950s than in the 1970s and 1980s. These findings are pertinent to current debates about bias in the peer-review system, and the gendering of academic reward and recognition structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-40
JournalOpen Library of Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018


  • Royal Society
  • Gender
  • Peer review
  • Editorial practices
  • Higher education
  • History of Science


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