Improving diversity on editorial boards is a pressing concern in the academic community. The direction and success of a journal can live or die by its editorial board. And for an editorial board to be effective, it needs to be as diverse as the research community it represents.
Unfortunately, editorial boards often lack gender, geographic, and ethnic diversity. As editor-in-chief, it sits with you to tackle any such imbalance on your board.
Yana Suchy, editor-in-chief of The Clinical Neuropsychologist faced this challenge with her own board. Here she reveals the steps she took to increase diversity as well as the results she’s seen.
1. Start thinking about diversity in your field
Three years ago, Yana began to think about the diversity of editorial boards in her field. She quickly came to realize that women and professionals from different ethnic backgrounds were under-represented on the editorial boards of journals in the field of clinical neuropsychology.
While she couldn’t change what other journal editors were doing, she decided to effect some changes in her own journal.
2. Compare your editorial board with the research community
Yana wanted to know if her editorial board reflected the makeup of the research community that her journal was speaking to. This was the situation she discovered in 2015:
|Female professionals||Non-Caucasian professionals|
|% in the field of clinical neuropsychology*||53%||11.7%|
|% of The Clinical Neuropsychologist’s editorial board||23%||2%|
*according to survey findings, (Sweet et al., 2015).
Yana clearly had some work to do to bring the board in line with the field.
3. Implement steps to improve the situation
To improve diversity, Yana and her board implemented the following:
- Set up a Gender and Culture Department and appointed two experts on gender and culture as ‘Department Editors’. They helped identify potential qualified board members.
- The board then invited people identified by the 'Department Editors' to join the editorial board.
- Yana presented at the journal’s society meetings to educate members about editorship.
- The journal announced changes on its social media outlets.
- Individual members gave personal encouragement to potential board members who were women or who were of diverse backgrounds.
4. Measure the impact of your actions
Action to tackle diversity is not enough. You must monitor the impact of what you’ve done to ensure real change is happening on your board.
By 2018 Yana was able to see a significant improvement.
- The number of women in the board had increased to 50%.
- The number of non-Caucasian members had increased to 13%.
5. Don’t stop at the first sign of improvement
The results for The Clinical Neuropsychologist are very encouraging, but Yana isn’t going to stop there. Achieving representative diversity on editorial boards takes sustained effort.
Yana plans to implement further initiatives to build upon the success. These include a data tracking process and a mentoring system to encourage diverse board applicants.
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References: Sweet, J.J., Benson, L.M., Nelson N.W., & Moberg, P.J. (2015). The American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, National Academy of Neuropsychology, and Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (APA Division 40) 2015 TCN Professional Practice and ‘Salary Survey’: Professional Practices, Beliefs, and Incomes of U.S. Neuropsychologists. TCN, 29, 1069-1162