Recently, I met a member of the Mormon Studies publishing establishment. He spoke to me about the gender differences in Mormon Studies publishing. He noted specifically that his organization receives almost no submissions from women; while the group wishes to redress the gender imbalance among their authors, they are unable to do so.
The conversation got me thinking about whether there exists a gender imbalance in Mormon Studies as a whole. I found myself asking: do women publish Mormon Studies material as often as men? What sorts of things do women publish? Is their focus academic work, personal narrative, theology?
Yesterday, I sat down and rifled through Dialogue and BYU Studies, two bastions of Mormon Studies work. I identified the authors of all the journals’ content from 2001 to the present, excepting letters to the editor; I then determined the authors’ genders and compared female and male contributions to the journals. I was saddened to find that a gender imbalance does indeed exist.
Of 470 authors published in either journal, 32% were female. Of those female authors, 65% published academic articles, theology work, and book reviews–works I have informally categorized as “hard”; 31% published only personal narratives, poetry, and fiction (“soft” works). Of the 68% of authors who were male, 80% published hard works; 20% published only soft works.
Of the 274 authors who contributed to Dialogue during the period in question, 39% were female and 61% were male. Of Dialogue’s female authors, 69% contributed hard works; 31% contributed only soft works. Of the journal’s male authors, 67% published hard works and 33% presented only soft works.
Of the 212 authors who contributed to BYU Studies, 23% were female and 77% were male. 68% of the females published hard works, and 31% published only soft works. 92% of the males published hard works, and 8% published only soft works.
While both journals had important gender gaps among authors, the 16-point gap between the journals’ percentages of female to male authors was also statistically significant, with a standard error of .04. And while female and male contributors to Dialogue contributed very similar content, with no statistically significant difference, female and male contributors to BYU Studies did publish different types of content at statistically significant rates–they showed a 24-point gap in publishing of hard works. That gap is significant, with a 0.070 standard error.
1. I excluded two authors, both of them published in BYU Studies, from the sample because I could not determine their genders–their names were not clearly gendered, and I could not identify them through research online.
2. A number of authors published in both journals; for the total results, I checked for author duplication.