Women less likely to critique men’s research in academic journals

A plausible explanation we put forward for why women are less likely to comment on men’s work is that the consequences of commenting are gendered. Publicly criticizing someone’s work can be a potentially high-risk form of scholarly contribution and engagement. Potentially, it can damage to one’s own reputation if one’s critique is perceived as invalid or unfair. It can also lead to retaliation in either the short or long term.

Women are considered less likeable when they are perceived as behaving assertively, and demonstrate success in male-dominated arenas. Hence, commenting in general could be disproportionately risky for women; this is particularly pronounced when the target is a male scholar insofar as it challenges the presumptive superiority of men.

Cary Woo, Assistant -York University, Canada; Rima Wilkes – University of British Columbia; Sylvia Fuller – University of British Columbia

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