Discussion paper

DP13789 Are Referees and Editors in Economics Gender Neutral?

We study the role of gender in the evaluation of economic research using submissions to
four leading journals. We find that referee gender has no effect on the relative assessment of
female- versus male-authored papers, suggesting that any differential biases of male referees
are negligible. To determine whether referees as a whole impose different standards for female
authors, we compare citations for female and male-authored papers, holding constant referee
evaluations and other characteristics. We find that female-authored papers receive about 25%
more citations than observably similar male-authored papers. Editors largely follow the referees,
resulting in a 6 percentage point lower probability of a revise and resubmit verdict for female-
authored papers relative to a citation-maximizing benchmark. In their desk rejection decisions,
editors treat female authors more favorably, though they still impose a higher bar than would be
implied by citation-maximization. We find no differences in the informativeness of female versus
male referees, or in the weight that editors place on the recommendations of female versus male
referees. We also find no differences in editorial delays for female versus male-authored papers.


Card, D, S DellaVigna, P Funk and N Iriberri (2019), ‘DP13789 Are Referees and Editors in Economics Gender Neutral?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13789. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13789