The UK’s Emerald Publishing: A Decline in Research Output from Women

In News by Porter Anderson

Reporting a 35-percent drop in research from women in early-stage roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emerald Publishing opens a support network.

Waiting for a train at Gordon Hill Station in North London’s Enfield on January 22. Image – iStockphoto: Joshua Sher

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Williams: ‘So That Women Aren’t Left Behind’
Timed to today’s (March 8) International Women’s Day observances (see our story on PublisHer’s new diversity toolkit), Emerald Publishing, based in Bingley, England, has opened a support network intended to support women in overcoming COVID-era challenges to conducting research.

The program is being offered on Emerald’s “Engage” platform.

At issue is what the company reports is a disproportionately affected group of female early-career researchers who, in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, have been “often juggling more caring responsibilities, struggling to stay healthy physically and mentally, as well as being concerned about the impact of this on their career progression.”

As a result, Emerald cites a 35-percent decline in research from female researchers in early-stage roles during the pandemic. A recent survey by the publisher conducted this year has found that one in four female researchers say a lack of a support network is the main pressure of academic life today.

In opening its new support program on the Engage platform, the company says its working to provide these women researchers with “a safe space to talk to others, make connections, share ideas, and buddy up with more established researchers who have stepped up to share their experiences, advice and provide practical tools.”

At least 1,200 female researchers, Emerald reports, have signaled their interest in the project, either serving as mentors to others or looking for such support, themselves.

Shaw: ‘Getting Up Off Our Knees Together’

In a statement sent to the news media, Emerald CEO Vicky Williams is quoted, saying, “There has been increased pressure on everyone in academia during the pandemic, but we’ve seen that women in particular have felt the effects of juggling increased caring responsibilities and work responsibilities and are seeking a strong support network.

Vicky Williams

“We hope that through this network, we can connect researchers and support them so that women aren’t left behind in a post-COVID world and so their voices continue to be heard through the power of research.

“Publishing is an integral part of academia and the launch of this support network is just another step we’re taking to help level the playing field. We’re particularly committed to amplifying under-represented voices in academia and therefore actively welcome intersectional involvement and participation in Engage.”

One of several academic professionals to join the program as a mentor, Katy Shaw is a professor of contemporary writings at Northumbria University.

Katy Shaw

In a statement today, Shaw says, “International Women’s Day is an annual reminder that in a world dominated by post-pandemic recovery, diversity and inclusivity cannot be kicked to the curb in discussions about how to get back on our feet after COVID.

“The only sustainable way forward—and the only real way of building resilience against future crises—is by getting up off our knees together.”

Williams herself—many Publishing Perspectives readers will remember she joined us in 2017 on a women-in-publishing panel at Frankfurter Buchmesse—was appointed the company’s first female CEO the following year.

In the past four years, the company says it has published at least 3,000 articles related to gender issues, as well as supporting the Workplace Equity Project, joining the C4DISC as a member, and expanding its STRIDE program–an internal peer-led initiative that empowers colleagues to create a culture of diversity and inclusion.

The company’s “Emerald Engage” is a closed, international community platform for people who work in academia. Members have opportunities to answer polls and surveys to help Emerald understand how to help and provide members with relevant tools, resources, and connections useful in their careers.

Emerald has worked in the academic publishing field for more than 50 years.


More from Publishing Perspectives on scholarly and academic research publishinng is here, more on the UK market is here, more on International Women’s Day is here, more on women in publishing is here, and more on diversity and inclusivity in world publishing is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.