Gender Balance Policy in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education

By Carlos Madrid Gari

On Wednesday April 26th was held in the Knowledge Building Channel of the European Digital Education Hub a webinar on “Bridging the Digital Gender Gap”. The aim of the event was to discuss gender equality issues; in which ways they are prominent in education, more specifically in digital and online education. Addressing the current perceptions, challenges, opportunities, insights, solutions, and best practices. Through this, the event aims to raise awareness of “what is” and “what if” and inspire the audience to reflect and plan new actions. The European Digital Education Hub is a community of practitioners, academics, students and researchers that together envision the future of digital education. In the Knowledge Building Channel, you can find monthly webinars about the most relevant topics, such as AI, digital assessment or gender equality. You can join EDEH via the following Registration Form.

The invited speakers for the session were Angela Jafarova (Datorium), Lieselot Declerq (ed-teach online school), Maria Rahamägi (Edumus) and Elsa Corominas Rodríguez (ETHE, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) in this event moderated by Juhani Koivuviita and Peter Fagerstörm (Educraftor). Each one of them shared their experiences concerning the opportunities and challenges that we all face when we address the topic of gender equality. In this post we will focus on one particular case: “Gender balance policy in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education”.

Why Journals Have to Be Involved in Gender Equality?

Scientific journals are key and necessary factors in science, academic careers and scientific communication. Scientific journals guarantee that the results of research are published as articles relatively quickly and have been previously validated by experts through the peer review process. Accordingly, they play a central role in ensuring gender equality in scientific research and its social impact. Gender equality is a centerpiece of European regulations and legislation. However, laws, regulations, protocols for action and recommendations are not enough in themselves. An effort and concrete actions are needed if the goal of equality is to be achieved. Science with a gender perspective is positive for society in general, which is why it must be adopted as part of the evaluation of research quality.

The International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education Case

In 2018 we took some actions to promote gender equality in the journal. We presented them at the #GenderUOC Conference at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in March 2019, and we were introduced as an example of good practices at the Springer Publishers Meeting that took place in London. Find below some of this actions:

  1. Regularly engages with their community via twitter to share information and research on gender and diversity
  1. When restructuring their Editorial Board, ETHE made a concerted effort to promote more women
  1. On International Women’s Day 2018, ETHE announced 13 new Editorial Board members, from 11 different countries, all of whom are female
  1. Current gender diversity: 50% Male, 50% Female

What Can Journal Editorial Teams Do? Ten Good Practices

Journal Editorial Teams have the possibility and responsibility to engage into a series of efficient practices in order to go towards a structure that’s optimal in terms of gender equality. In the following lines, we are going to explore ten good practices that can be very helpful to any journal that needs to rethink the strategy on this matter:

  1. Parity on boards: Ensure that academic and editorial boards have an equal split of 50% women and 50% men.
  2. Parity in review teams: Try to ensure the highest levels of parity among the reviewers, go over the percentage of male and female reviewers from previous years accordingly.
  3. Double blind reviews: Avoid biases, preconceptions and discrimination arising from prior knowledge of the author’s details, such as gender.
  4. Disaggregate data: Disaggregate the data upon which the research is based by sex and gender to guarantee its rigor and quality. 
  5. Visibility in reference lists: Pick citation styles that allow you to include authors’ full names.
  6. Use authors’ full names: This helps raise the profile of women in different areas of scientific research.
  7. Use inclusive language: It’s a way of showing the journal’s intent and stance with regard to equality between men and women.
  8. Recommend the use of inclusive language: Provide authors with an official guide on how to correctly use non-discriminatory language.
  9. Communication and dissemination: Promote all the above actions on social media and through the journal’s dissemination and communication channels.
  10.  Balance in citations: Try to ensure a degree of balance in the number of articles cited written by men and women.

Most of these actions are linked to each other which makes it even easier to follow and integrate into a journal day-to-day activities. Slight changes in the way that we approach a matter such as authors’ names can have a big positive impact in terms of gender equality. In conclusion, simple and effective actions to promote gender equality can be undertaken in different steps of research and scientific publishing. Being the will to take small first steps enough to transform any journal into a gender equality balanced structure.

Now it’s your turn to express your opinion, would you add an eleventh good practice? Would you change any of the current ten points? Let us know your approach to improve gender balance in journal or any organization.

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