06. September 2015 · Comments Off on Gender Distribution and Gender Equality in German Literature Studies Journals – Part 1 · Categories: Literary Studies · Tags: ,



This is a work-in-progress, small scale study, inspired by some observations Melissa Terras made in her recent blog post about Frontiers in DH (regarding all-male editorial teams of journals), and a tentative research query of my own that left me baffled. – While I won’t focus on DH journals in particular or the DH community in general (see Scott Weingart’s series of blog posts (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) on this matter), I will take a look at my own discipline, which is German literature studies, especially, the so called “Inlandsgermanistik” (meaning: German literary studies in the German speaking countries, mainly Germany). I will also draw on my 2014 blog post on gender distribution in German edition philology.

Research questions

(1) I want to know the gender distribution among (senior) editors and editorial boards of the leading contemporary German-speaking, German literary studies journals, especially (1a) how many of the journals have all-male editorial teams (e.g. the editors, if there are more than one) and (1b) all-male or mainly male editorial boards. (1c) I want to know the number (and percentage) of non-male persons in both editorial teams and boards. (2) I then want to compare the gender distribution to the general gender distribution within the Inlandsgermanistik (if I can manage to get recent data).

Expected findings

(1) One could expect the distribution of gender among editors and editorial boards to be more or less the same as the general distribution within the academic field in the respective countries (and Germany is one of the worst when it comes to the ratio of male to non-male tenured (senior) professors in the humanities). While the ratio might not be representative of society as a whole and far from what we as the academic community want, it would at least be representative of the field of German literary studies in the German speaking countries when it comes to gender distribution of senior academics. However, ensuing from my own experiences, I expect (2) the gender distribution to be  to the disadvantage of non-male academics and even lower than the ratio in the field. I further (3) suspect, that the majority of leading journals has all-male editorial teams and mainly male editorial boards.


(1) First, I will compile a list of leading German-speaking, German literary studies journals. “Leading” meaning that the journals are well-known, well-distributed (have a high enough number of subscriptions from libraries) and established (meaning, they cannot be recently founded journals; which excludes almost all digital-only journals, though). I aim at a set of ~100 journals; I take my starting point with the collection of journals on germanistik.net. (2) I will than create an Excel-sheet listing all selected journals where I enter the total number of people in editorial teams and consulting editorial boards (and executive editors) and the number of male and non-male persons each. (3) I will calculate the proportion for each journal and (4) compare it to the general gender distribution in the field. (5) I will then try to provide some explanations for the findings and finally (6) draft some normative suggestions on the matter, namely: what we as the academic community (of German literary studies) could and should do about the status quo in regard to gender equality and representativeness in academia.


I plan to do this small scale study ‘in my free time’, without any funding and without an assignment. I will publish the study and its results as a series of blog posts on my personal private blog under a CC-licence. I might, upon request, publish the findings in a more traditional format in a journal at a later date. All research materials will be published on the way under a CC-licence on GitHub (Excel sheets, graphics, drafts).

Research Ethics

The material I am going to use might contain some sort of personal data as far as it involves names, professions, institutional affiliations, academic titles and the like. All of this data is already published and openly available. I will use this data, and only the data I can get from journal impressa and editorial notes.

P.S. This post will probably be updated later, if so, I will add a version statement & date at the beginning!

Comments closed