This International Women’s Day, Journal of Animal Ecology’s Editors reflect on the path to improving the representation of women within our editorial board, and invite you to discuss how we, as a journal, may continue to support gender diversity overall.
In 2007, Journal of Animal Ecology was in a period of growth. Submissions had increased greatly over the preceding years and our editorial board consisted of 43 expert ecologists covering a range of specialties within the diverse animal ecology field. Over the next seven years, growth continued, with submission numbers rising from just under 800 in 2007 to just over 1000 in 2014. And the board kept up; increasing to 64 individuals. Things were looking good. That was until we turned our attention to the balance of male and female editors.
In 2014, just 14.1% of our editors (Senior and Associate) were female. This was actually an improvement on the 4.7% in 2007 but nowhere near representative or balanced enough. Clearly, something had to be done if the journal was going to reflect, not only society at large, but also the diversity of ecologists who may submit manuscripts to the journal.
It was at around this time that active efforts to increase gender diversity began to ramp up. When approaching people to join the board, and through our open calls, the journal made a conscious effort to approach and support more women whose scientific expertise were (and still are) an asset to the journal. A further seven years later, in 2021, 44 of our 95 editors were female, and today, there are 87 expert researchers on Journal of Animal Ecology’s board; 43 of them are women. That’s 49%. Finally, near something that reflects our society – both the British Ecological Society, where current membership data shows 55% female, 42% male, 1% non-binary, 2% prefer not to say and 1% prefer to self-describe; and beyond.
Former Executive Editor, Ken Wilson was largely responsible for leading the charge to increase the representation of women on the board, of course with enthusiastic support by the rest of the editorial team and the BES:
This is one of the things I am most proud of from my time as Executive Editor, but it wasn’t without its detractors because although we managed to achieve gender parity, in the process we also had to lose a number of excellent long-serving (male) Associate Editors who had been with us for the maximum nine years. Hopefully, the current Senior Editors can continue to diversify the editorial board even further.
Importantly, we note that in the above we have referred to female and male, women and men, but we fully recognise the fact that there are multiple dimensions within and beyond gender diversity. Like the rest of the BES, Journal of Animal Ecology is committed to promoting a community of ecologists which is as diverse as possible. We are pleased with where we are as a journal but believe there is more to be done so that our editorial board, and our authors, reflect the incredible diversity of ecologists working on the ecology of animals in every corner of the world.
We remain all ears regarding how members of the BES, our authors, and ecologists more broadly would like us to continue improving. Please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.