The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not?

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  5. Thanks, everyone, for all these comments. We certainly don’t know the percentage of women versus men in science journalism (though as Bob and Siri point out, there are many pieces that point to women actually outnumbering men, at least early in their careers). We also didn’t look at some of the other publications mentioned, and thanks, Science News, Nature, and Hakai, for running numbers of your own, particularly since they do seem to more accurately reflect the pool of science journalists! We look forward to seeing what other discussions come about as a result of this research, and we certainly hope that together we can propose some solutions.

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  7. At Science News, in 2015 we ran 51 feature stories: 21 by men and 30 by women (41% and 59%). Most were written by staff writers and a handful of excellent freelancers (one by Open Notebook’s own Siri Carpenter: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/adults-autism-are-left-navigate-jarring-world). Cori Vanchieri / features editor

  8. @Eli — Nature’s features chief, Helen Pearson, did a count for the features we ran in 2015: https://twitter.com/hcpearson/status/697760117022965760

    37%male/61% female bylines (2% joint)

    I’d like to run the numbers for our news section but that’ll take a bit longer to do — the news well is so much larger than the features well here.

  9. This is a really interesting and worthwhile project, thank you.

    It prompted us to do a quick count of Nature’s features for all of 2015. We found 37% male bylines and 61% female bylines (2% joint), out of just under 100 features in the year. Our features are about half/half from staff writers and freelancers.

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  11. Weird thing I noticed when I looked up some of these magazines’ media kits that they provide to advertisers: the audiences for most of the science focused magazines skew male. (For example, SciAm’s audience is about 62% male, according to their media kit: https://www.scientificamerican.com/mediakit/advertise/scientific-american/print/audience/)

    Whereas the not-science specific mags- i.e. The New Yorker (52% women http://www.condenast.com/brands/new-yorker/media-kit/print), The Atlantic (54% women: http://advertising.theatlantic.com/static/img/upload/pdfs/TheAtlanticMediaKit_2015.pdf)–actually have seem to have more women in their print-subscription audience but have some of the stronger male skews in science writing.

    I have no idea what that means & it’s only anecdotal, but to me, as a 24-yo, it’s always seemed like there are plenty of women in science journalism. However, the sources quoted skew male and so do the audiences. So I’m not sure what we do about that…

  12. It would be interesting to see how these findings would compare with untraditional, online-only publications like BuzzFeed, Gizmodo and so on.

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking post, Open Notebook staff. As a science writer beginning my career, this site is always a great resource.

  13. Any clue as to the #s at Science, Nature or Science News?

  14. It’s true that we don’t have that baseline number. My impression is the same as Bob’s–that women far outnumber men among science journalists. That’s certainly true in the training programs, and from what I understand that has been true for many, many years. (It’s also true among applicants to The Open Notebook’s fellowship program, where female applicants have outnumbered male applicants by about 6:1.)

  15. It’s my impression that there are way more female than male science journalists, judging from membership in NASW, AHCJ, and other organizations. If that’s the case, roughly equal numbers of male/female bylines is not at all an indication of parity — there should be more female bylines than male.

    BTW, I was one of the volunteer counters. It was a fun project, and I was honored to be part of it.

  16. What is the ratio of female writers to male writers in the industry overall? Without that as a point of comparison, these numbers aren’t easy to benchmark.

  17. A quick count of male/female bylines in Hakai Magazine’s feature well has revealed 31 female bylines and 23 male bylines. We focus on publishing #distractinglyarticulate writers.

    We really enjoy the Open Notebook and regularly share posts with each other and our writers. Thank you for all your hard work!

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