Late last year, we released an initial analysis from AIP Publishing’s first demographic benchmarking study. This report provided an overview of the geography, gender, and ethnicity of our authors, reviewers, board members and editors. We noted then that this was just the start of a process — and now, we’re now diving into the challenging task of formulating specific strategies to understand and expand diversity across our journals. Here, we’ve focused on what these potential strategies might look like for our editors at AIP Publishing journals.
After the report was released, we prioritized sharing and reviewing the report with our editors. At this early stage, we recognize goals need to be tackled at a journal-by-journal level, taking into consideration what is achievable and over which period. Adopting a flexible approach is essential: In looking over our existing portfolio needs, we understand it will take time to implement changes.
One immediate area of focus is on editor recruitment. When we recently presented our benchmarking study to our editors-in-chief, there was broad agreement that there should be demographic objectives when journals evaluate new editors and board members. While the pace of change can vary — for example, there is no set term for associate editor contracts — contract renewals provide an ideal opportunity to diversify our talent pool. We have, however, learned that this can be a challenge: Although journals hiring for new editors-in-chief are encouraged to maintain a balanced gender ratio during interviews, there is still a huge gender gap at the requisite level in academia — meaning there is a lack of women available for these roles, which will take time to address. Sometimes, this can lead to practical questions of whether a journal is willing to delay an appointment to ensure equity in the process.
Yet, despite these hurdles, we can already see the impact of our setting demographic goals. We have been tracking editor and editorial board data continuously for the past four years to capture geography and estimated gender for all contract renewals:
Gender: Our report highlighted a gender imbalance in editor positions. Female representation in these roles has increased from 24% in 2021 to 30% in 2023. Specifically, the ratios for associate editors have risen from 20% to 27%, and for Advisory Board members from 26% to 32%. There remains a diversity gap for editors-in-chief, where representation of women has dropped from 10% in 2021 to 9% in 2023.
Geography: Our report noted a significant presence of editors from North America. The overall percentage of Editorial Advisory Board members from this region decreased from 46% in 2021 to 41% in 2023. Meanwhile, representation from Europe has remained stable, and representation from Asia has steadily increased from 20% in 2021 to 24% in 2023. Considering the substantial number of our authors from Asia, this upward trend is encouraging.
Newly launched titles offer the most significant opportunity for change, as we can create goals at the outset. For example, APL Energy, APL Machine Learning, and APL Quantum are striving toward a 50:50 female:male gender ratio of associate editors and Advisory Board members. They are also making efforts to include more associate editors based in Asia. Two journals have already achieved their gender target at the associate editor level, and all have started recruitment of associate editors based in Asia.
|Associate editor gender ratio (female:male)
|Advisory Board member gender ratio (female:male)
|Associate editors — Asia
|APL Machine Learning
|1 in China
|1 in China, 1 in Japan
|1 in China, 1 in Taiwan
Although there is much more to do, the progress is evident where DEI goals are already in place for our editors. As conversations progress, we anticipate more individual targets set journal-by-journal. Additionally, we’re gathering tips and tricks from other publishers to identify further opportunities within our portfolio.
In future, we plan to transition from our estimated benchmarking to self-reporting through our submission platform, eJournal Press. Tracking through PXP will be available for all roles: Authors, Reviewers, Editors, and Advisory Board members. We are currently working on a pilot stage for two journals, each using a slightly different approach to collect the data. We look forward to sharing more about what we’ve learned from this in 2024.