I was pleased to see the articles discussing the absence of women in senior positions in science in the latest issue of EMBO reports. One particularly telling part was your own survey of why men seemed to be more successful in securing EMBO long‐term fellowships than women. Your survey noted that their publications tended to be in journals with a higher impact factor than those of the female applicants. To get papers published in journals with a high impact factor it seems to be the norm to have to sell your story hard—perhaps even to oversell it, and to be prepared to argue your case quite aggressively with reviewers and journal editors. I think that female scientists are less prepared to do this, and are less comfortable with going through these hoops, and thus often settle for an easier ride in journals with a slightly lower impact. I have certainly noted that some of my male colleagues quite readily argue with journal editors over the telephone about their manuscripts—something that is certainly not in my nature.
Perhaps one way to address this problem is to take a look at the composition of journal editorial boards. The EMBO Journal and EMBO reports are not setting a good example, I am afraid to say. A cursory look at your Advisory Editorial Board shows a paltry representation of women scientists—a mere 6% by my reckoning—which is notably less than the European average representation of women in professorial posts.
- Copyright © 2001 European Molecular Biology Organization
Wendy Bickmore is at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK