The Need for Data in the Path to Gender Equity in Publishing

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Tue Mar 7 2023

Author: Guest contributor

Rucha Kapare discusses the critical role of DEI data in shaping the Springer Nature Group strategy, and how the company aims to tackle the gender gap by taking an evidence-based, data-driven approach.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is at the heart of everything we do at Springer Nature -  promoting DEI internally for our employees and externally to our communities (our authors, reviewers, editors, etc.) is very important to us. When these principles are embedded in our culture it helps everyone to be the best version of themselves and also helps us to serve our communities better. This is also reflected  in our DEI strategies, which you can read more about here

When thinking about our external approach to DEI, we started with our research publishing business with a focus on becoming intentionally inclusive, engaging our communities and stakeholders to support collaborative action, and improving research and publishing practices through policy. One year on, we have made progress, but there is so much more we can do.

Ensuring a healthy diversity within research communities is a huge challenge with a lot of uncertainty faced not just by Springer Nature but also across the wider publishing industry. It also requires interdependence not only across different departments but across different organisations.

So what is Springer Nature doing next?

Springer Nature has a holistic approach and aims to champion DEI in - our organisation, the communities we serve, and the content we publish. Details here: DEI at Springer Nature 

DEI data is a critical component of our overall Springer Nature group strategy and a distinct workstream is being set up to focus on this data. Our aim is to take an evidence-based data-driven approach, and to be able to demonstrate progress over time. Hence, one of the key strategies we have for DEI is to -

“Collect and use reliable data on DEI opportunities in our communities to measure, monitor and further our progress by developing best practices of data collection and reporting”

The workstream’s focus is to provide insights, create baselines and steer information for the benefit of the different DEI projects across the organisation. To do this we need to accurately understand the current diversity of our authors, editorial decision-makers and reviewers, and we are starting with gender.

But WHY Gender? The Gender Gap 

Any discussion about sustainable development is underpinned by gender inequality and its wide-reaching effects.  There needs to be an active and intentional effort towards addressing gender equality.

  • Having diversity, including gender diversity, within the scientific workforce contributes to fresh perspectives, stimulates creativity and innovation, and creates new avenues for comprehending and implementing research outcomes (Nielsen et al 2018)
  • Women, as well as those of other marginalized genders, are underrepresented in many areas of research and research publishing
  • The publishing community through the Joint Commitment has already defined and agreed on a standardised set of data collection questions and responses, so this gives us a head start.

gender © springer nature 2023

Doing this will help us to:

  • Understand our researcher community and content better
  • Set goals, start the action and measure progress for the betterment of the community

So what are we doing in this area to improve gender balance?

We want to collect self-reported gender data for our authors and track how that changes over time. Self-reported data is the industry gold standard. While we work on self-reported data we are also exploring other ways of getting faster baselines. 

Springer Nature has a very big portfolio and as a team, we believe any new work which does not have a defined process needs a lot of exploration. We, therefore, have started with a small group of journals to test, measure, learn and scale following Lean and Agile development principles. 

While the functional requirement of looking at where in the customer journey we collect this data is important, so is explaining why it's needed, and how it will be used and not used. We must also consider the technical aspect of storage, retrieval and access control, as we are dealing with sensitive data subject to legal and data protection regulations. For this, we have consulted multiple stakeholders and GDPR experts, considering especially the sensitivities across the different countries that we publish from a demographic perspective.  As we implement this, we will gather data, analyse results and then decide on the next steps. We have a highly passionate team who relate to and care deeply about ensuring DEI in scientific publishing and otherwise. 

We strongly believe that “Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice.” and we want to actively make this choice not just because it has a business case (more diversity means more innovation and more revenue) or a legal case (where we have to comply with certain laws) but simply because it is the right thing to do.

Rucha Kapare © Springer Nature
Visit Springer Nature's SDG5 Gender Equality Hub 

About the Authors

Rucha Kapare is Global Head of External DEI - Data at Springer Nature.


Author: Guest contributor

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