Elin Weiss




In comparison to most countries, the Scandinavian countries have extraordinary social policies in regards to parental leave, child care arrangements, and child allowance. The Scandinavian countries are considered some of the most equal in the world in relation to women’s opportunities and are described as women-friendly welfare states that exhibit favourable working conditions for women psychologists. This piece compares the numbers of women tothe number of men who published articles for the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology with six other psychology journals. The assumption I held was that the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology would display greater representations of women as authors of journal articles due to the favorable status of women psychologists in the Scandinavian countries and their progressive work, equality, and child care policies. Instead, a remarkable under-representation of female authors characterised the journal.


In nearly all countries women constitute the great majority of undergraduate and postgraduate students in the field of psychology (Goodheart and Markham 1999). Debates concerning the feminisation of psychology are ongoing and have mainly discussed inequalities of pay while more recent research has focused its attention on the increasing numbers of women as students and professionals in the field of psychology in connection to hiring and promotion (Irvine and Vermilya 2010). Studies concerned with representation of women in psychology have also looked at female authorship in psychology journals (Riley et al. 2006; Hegarty and Buechel 2006).


It is now well known that despite being a majority in almost all subfields of psychology in nearly all countries women are facing underrepresentation as authors (Olos and Hoff 2006; Riley et al. 2006; Hegarty and Buechel 2006) and editors (Metz and Harzing 2009). The Scandinavian countries, however, have received much praise for their advanced gender equality and representation of women in psychology. The Scandinavian countries are also well known for their advanced welfare systems that provide employment-based child care, child allowance and parental leave and which encourages equality and sharing of caring responsibilities (Cancian and Oliker 2000).


It is important to examine female representation within a feminised field, such as psychology, because even though psychology is described as a feminised profession it does not necessarily mean that women are equally represented. Women often wish to receive promotions and full professorship due to its beneficial impact on their careers but also because of personal fulfilment. When women are underrepresented in psychology their interests are also underrepresented at universities and such an underrepresentation results in a lack of female role models and mentors in the field. When women are underrepresented in regards to full professorship pay differences are maintained since promotion is regularly accompanied by a salary raise (Pruitt et al. 2010).


One of the major challenges women face in regards to work advancement and promotion is that of dual responsibilities between work and care work. Nakano Glenn (2010) has even claimed that care work is and has been forced upon women. The majority of carers are without a doubt women (care work does not just concern children but also elderly parents or other dependants) and this caring role can disadvantage women in regards to work opportunities and the development of a career. In fact, women with caring responsibilities are more likely to give up work, to turn down promotions, take a leave of absence, and even end up in poverty. Caregivers are also emotionally vulnerable and care giving might result in physical exhaustion, high blood pressure, and depression (Nakano Glenn 2010).


The majority of individuals publishing and writing for the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology are from the Scandinavian countries (of course exceptions exist). Thereby, the journal ought to be a good representation of Scandinavian psychology and academia. Because these countries are involved with advanced social welfare systems that promote equality and sharing of care work such advances should ideally be noticeable in regards to work and academia. Female authorship in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology is here compared to female authorship in Teaching of Psychology, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Review of General Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology and Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.


The examined issues from all seven journals were accessed through University College Dublin online library through its electronic journal search. The earliest common issue was available from 1997 and to 2010 and therefore the analysis includes those years. All issues for each journal and for each year were systematically reviewed and the sex of the author was recorded on the basis of first name. Authorship was separately recorded for each year and then pooled together in order to carry out the comparison. Statistical analysis consisted of Chi-square with an expected equal representation of 30 percent for men and 70 percent for women. Significance was recorded for *p<.001,p<.01 and *p<.05 where it applied.


Female authorship for all journals between 1997 and 2010

Year         CPQ           TP               PP          RGP           JOOP           SJP             JEP
1997     26(77)       41(119)       82(212)       7(40)          33(73)          23(83)        14(58)
1998     33(71)       58(146)       99(255)         9(25)         23(63)          28(90)        11(49)
1999    16(55)       69(153)       90(232)       16(34)         41(104)      24(78)         24(72)
2000    25(62)       51(129)       108(279)     10(31)       29(88)           29(93)         23(78)
2001     19(52)       64(148)       85(249)       12(36)        35(98)           37(128)      38(125)
2002     22(73)       79(181)       107(242)    9(37)        28(85)             41(128)      35(95)
2003     28(61)      82(185)       104(234)    8(32)        14(64)             41(140)      28(86)
2004   58 (20)     76(162)       95(220)      7(31)         26(94)             50(118)      24(97)
2005     16(67)       69(142)        127(255)      12(46)        36(95)           52(160)      33(118)
2006   23(65)       71(162)       120(246)    8(39)          34(94)           55(161)      25(110)
2007     25(62)      42(103)        161(319)      10(47)        31(108)         78(201)      36(124)
2008     24(58)      61(134)        145(290)      11(53)        36(106)         67(225)      36(135)
2009     28(58)       53(110)        164(302)      20(74)        52(127)         91(225)      26(85)
2010   29(57)      74(137)       121(259)      19(69)        56(156)         79(233)      30(118)

Note: The number of female authors is presented first and total authorship appears in parenthesis. Results do not include authors unidentifiable by first name. CPQ= Counselling Psychology Quarterly; TP= Teaching of Psychology; PP= Professional Psychology: Research and Practice; RGP= Review of General Psychology; JOOP= Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology; SJP= Scandinavian Journal of Psychology; JEP= Journal of Experimental Psychology.  



For the six journals examined in comparison to Scandinavian Journal of Psychology,Counselling Psychology Quarterly exhibit the least overall underrepresentation of female authors (211.080) even though women were not publishing at an equal amount to men for the overall sample. After Counselling Psychology Quarterly, the Review of General Psychology displays the second lowest underrepresentation of women authors (461.706), even though the significance here is substantial. Teaching of Psychology is quite similar in comparison to the Review of General Psychology (503.359) but a slightly larger underrepresentation of women authors is observed. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology displays an even larger underrepresentation of women authors with a significance of 654.029. The Journal of Experimental Psychology (982.867) displays substantially lower numbers of women authors over the 14 years examined than any of the journals just mentioned and in no year do women publish in equal amount to men. A further underrepresentation of women as authors of articles is seen in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice where the statistical significance reached 1091.900. In this journal women were grossly underrepresented in the total authorship over the fourteen years examined. The largest underrepresentation of women as authors over the fourteen years examined was found in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Here the significance reached 1141.361*** which in itself is extreme but it is also quite substantially higher than in any of the other journals. The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology is thereby clearly displaying a high underrepresentation of women authors in comparison to the other journals of psychology.


There generally was an increase in the numbers of women publishing over time in the journals and the same is true for the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology which of course is a positive trend. It is, however, striking that a well known journal with its base in the progressive and equality advanced Scandinavian countries exhibits such low numbers of women authors (all authors were included and not just first authors) or in other words such a striking under-representation of women authors. Is this an indication that perhaps these progressive policies are not working as intended, or is there simply alternative explanations? Are these advancedsocial policies useful in theory only or also in practice? Could it perhaps be that a belief in gender equality is clouding the fact that women are not equally situated in the work place in comparison to men in the Scandinavian countries? Studies concerning gender differences in regards to household work have found that beliefs regarding gender equality do not actually affect the sharing of household work and child care (Mather Saul 2003). According to Kimmel (2000) men who believe in gender equality do not actually appear to do more housework or childcare. Instead, the belief in gender equality is more likely to result in overestimations of sharing of responsibilities than actual sharing. Moreover, despite the progressive policies in regards to parental leave, men in Scandinavia do not appear to avail of such rights to a large extent (Bekkengen 2002; Klinth 2008; Lacroix 2006). Reasons for these might include traditional beliefs in a male breadwinner and a female carer (Lammi-Taskula 2008), together with opposition and lack of formal support from managers and supervisors (Allard et al. 2011; Bekkengen 2008; Haas and Hwang 2009).


What can be stated with certainty is that in none of the fourteen years examined did women author more articles in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology than men. We can also state that all of the six journals examined together with the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology displayed greater representations of women as authors than the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology did. For the other journals included in the comparison we observed an overall underrepresentation of female authors when the results from all years were examined together, but these underrepresentations were not as high as for the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.



 Elin Weiss has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from University College Dublin. Some of her previous work can be found online at: The F-Word, XY-online, Sex Roles and Metapsychology Online Reviews.






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