As International Women’s Day approaches, we at Cambridge University Press prepare with promotions to highlight specific journal articles and books of resonance to this important topic. I have been reflecting on why, as one of the leading University Presses, we do this and why I, as one of the relatively few female Managing Directors in academic publishing, believe we can add substance and impact to the debate.
We need International Women’s Day because women are still under-represented in most industries at senior levels across the world and in some countries women still have fewer rights than our male counterparts. Until women get the equal opportunities and treatment we all deserve, those of us with a voice have to make it heard.
At Cambridge University Press we sometimes get public criticism for our books not having equal numbers of men and women contributors, or for our promotions of key subjects not having equal representation. I am pleased that people notice this because it does matter and I can say with confidence that this is despite our very best endeavours. Our authors are selected from the leaders in their field and our promotions feature our most impactful works but in many cases this does not give us as many women as men because our publishing inevitably reflects the academic communities from which it comes. For example, since 1901, 853 men have won a Nobel prize compared to only 51 women and of the Fields Medalists winners only 1 women has won compared to 59 men. We can, and are, trying to do more to proactively find and publish the best female scholars, but we also need society to give all female researchers the same opportunities to develop and excel.
So the promotions for International Women’s Day aim to do two things. Firstly to bring to the fore the research of some of the many brilliant female authors we have been privileged to work with. This is an opportunity to spotlight the contribution women can make in their fields when given the chance, in the hope it motivates others to follow in their lead or helps reduce barriers and discrimination. We have asked the highlighted authors to contribute to the campaign by writing their own blog pieces on the topic in relation to their field as well.
Secondly, we also make content freely accessible because being a university press means helping society to have informed debate, especially in this age of misinformation and ‘fake news’. So we want to ensure everyone has access to the latest thinking on key topics, be it the influential role of women in history or tackling the issues women around the world face today. We believe that making content accessible for all is better for global research and for an informed society and is the reason we have an ultimate vision to be an Open Research publisher – until sustainable business models have been established for this we will continue to make content open when it supports key debates or throws a spotlight on to topical issues.
Join me in enjoying these remarkable works whilst celebrating International Women’s Day