Increasing diversity on your editorial board

A success story by Editor-in-Chief of The Clinical Neuropsychologist

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. Therefore, 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 when it comes to managing your board.

Increasing diversity on editorial boards
Infographic based on success story by Yana Suchy

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. Therefore, in 2015, the numbers were calculated and the following results were discovered:

Diversity on editorial board
Survey results of gender and race

*according to survey findings, (Sweet et al., 2015).

The results show a clear imbalance of diversity in the editorial board, compared to the research community as a whole. 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 then 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

But 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.

Have you heard about our podcast series, ‘15 minutes to develop your research career’?

Listen to episode 6 which explores the challenges of research life, looking at important issues that aren’t always talked about. Among these are the challenges faced by women and those from minority ethnic backgrounds in research.

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