The Abu Dhabi enirate is a religious dictatorship and may be tired of western countries noting that women may suffer from legalized domestic violence, among other contradictions in a state that says women are equal, because a new analysis says that the western world is sexist too. At least when it comes to how many female editors at science journals there are.

Since scientific editors shape the content of academic journals and set standards for their fields, gender disparity can influence opportunities for women to publish in these journals, receive recognition for their research, and advance their careers.

The analysis was of 81,000 editors serving more than 1,000 journals and 15 disciplines over five decades and the rate at which editors publish their own research in the journals they oversee. It found that women are underrepresented on editorial boards across disciplines. Only 26 percent of authors in the data set were women, and even fewer women were editors (14 percent) or editors-in-chief (eight percent).

That may be a loss for publishers because women may be more objective, or even more ethical. Though editors can publish up to 70 percent of their papers in journals they edit while continuing to serve as editors women were found less likely to exploit that.

The vast majority of editors are research-active academics who perform editorial duties in addition to their research activities. By analyzing the publication records of 20,000 editors, the researchers found that 12 percent publish at least one fifth, and six percent publish at least one third, of their own papers in the journal they edit. Editors-in-chief tend to self-publish at a higher rate; it was found that 19 percent self-publish at least one fifth of their papers, and 11 percent self-publish one third of their papers. Finally, compared to women, men have a higher increase in the rate at which they publish in a journal soon after becoming its editor.

Critics will note differences in numbers don't mean bias. For example, academia is not going to fire a lot of Democrats until the faculty is 44 percent Republican nor are men going to be mandated until they are 49 percent of the social sciences.