At Springer Nature, we remain committed to challenging oppression, celebrating advances in gender equality, and recognizing the challenges that remain. To mark Human Rights Day we have spoken to some of our editors and authors about the intersection of gender equality and human rights. In this interview we speak with Aisha Bradshaw & Samantha Antusch, editors of Nature Human Behaviour.
Nature Human Behaviour is a multidisciplinary research journal that publishes research into all aspects of individual or collective human behaviour. Naturally, gender equality, the lack thereof and the effects of it are research topics that we regularly see work in and that we find important to publish. Some of the work offers very practical insights such as an article that we published this year on how a longer shortlist increases the consideration of female candidates in male-dominated fields, or this paper on a restorative justice-informed intervention for domestic violence (a category of crime that disproportionately affects women). We have also published papers on a variety of topics, such as how female property rights relate to levels of intimate partner violence, social norms surrounding female genital cutting, and how languages reflect gender stereotypes. We also actively recruit and commission work that addresses such topics related to sustainable development goals and SDG 5 specifically. Our magazine content which includes opinion pieces, commentaries and World Views, is especially valuable as it enables us to provide a platform for important voices and topics and to stimulate reformative practices in a range of important areas, such as female genital mutilation, transgender people’s rights, the gender gap in employment and wages and more.
Topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion are a high priority for us and we continuously educate ourselves and reevaluate our own practices. Currently, we aim to diversify our reviewer pools. This effort does not only include a drive for more balanced gender distribution amongst our reviewers but also the inclusion of more researchers outside of universities in the Global North. We also remain committed to publishing strong research that provides insight into how gender inequality operates within the scientific research system, and steps that can be taken to reduce it. For instance, we published a research article, which examined the connection between women’s participation in research and the information included in the analysis. In other work, the authors examined implicit bias in the context of scientific promotion decisions.
This is a long-standing challenge, but going into dialog is a key way in which researchers can engage with policy makers and inform policy making. Both researchers and policy makers can benefit from such conversations, as open discussion and listening to the other party are essential to determining missing links between theory and practice as well as identifying pressing practical issues. Scientific insights do not always directly translate into practical interventions. This is why mutual understanding is crucial in devising scalable and successful interventions. As a journal, we aim to facilitate this dialogue by speaking to a very broad audience, across many fields of science, and by maintaining a rich magazine section, which allows authors to speak to important issues in a less technical way.
The social sciences are traditionally quite applied and focused on contributing to understanding and solving societal issues. This knowledge and experience with applied work and interventions is especially valuable for addressing SDG-related topics. This is also what we see – more and more work that gets submitted to us offers important insights into societal issues and tests interventions to tackle them. Researchers have a significant opportunity to shed light on challenging social problems, and bringing evidence to bear on these challenges is crucial.
We have had some initial success in working with policymakers to introduce our evidence-based ideas in local legislation. For example, we have met with policymakers at both the local and national levels, including Members of Parliament, to advocate for policies that would create asset-building tools housed at formal financial institutions for every child in Uganda. In doing so, we take our peer-reviewed manuscripts and translate them into clear, concise policy briefs and recommendations based on our study results. These meetings were made possible because of the relationships and trust our team has cultivated through years of working in local communities, through regular meetings with both stakeholders and local leadership.
Worldwide and locally, there is still a lot of progress to be made towards achieving gender equality. No individual should be living in fear or be discriminated against because of their gender or gender identity. Locally, while there has been a lot of progress, continued efforts are necessary to achieve gender equality. This includes closing the gender pay gap and equal work opportunities and career opportunities for people of all gender identities. Another key challenge is to ensure that lived realities match legal frameworks, so that gender equality is both enshrined in law and occurring in practice.
Gender equality and human rights are inextricably connected. Women are still oppressed in many areas of the world, leaving them with limited opportunities. Violence against women is still shockingly common. Gender equality extends beyond women’s rights to, for example, addressing challenges that disproportionately affect non-binary and transgender people. Advocating for human rights and equality of all individuals is thus core to promoting gender equality, and acknowledging the equality of people of all genders contributes to the overall understanding that human rights are fundamental and inalienable.
About Aisha Bradshaw & Samantha Antusch
Aisha joined Nature Human Behaviour in 2018 after completing her PhD in political science, with a focus on international relations. Aisha is currently a senior editor handling papers primarily in political science, economics, criminology, and related social sciences.
Samantha joined Nature Human Behaviour as an associate editor in 2020. Her background is in social, health and cognitive psychology. Samantha primarily handles research in the fields sociology, psychology as well as communication and media studies.