Male homophily in South American herpetology: one of the major processes underlying the gender gap in publications
The growing number of gender studies encourages more refined analyzes and greater conceptualization of the underlying processes of gender gap in science. In Herpetology, previous studies have described gender disparities and a scrutiny of individual interactions may help revealing the mechanisms modelling the global pattern. In this contribution we modeled a co-authorship network, a previously unexplored methodology for gender studies in this discipline, in addition to a broad and classic bibliometric analysis of the discipline. Co-authorship networks were modelled for two South American journals because this geo-political location is considered to present the best gender balance within general scientific communities. However, we found a pattern of male preferential connections (male homophily) that marginalizes women and maintains the gender gap, at both regional and global scales. This interpretation arises from results coming from multiple analyses, such as high homophily index in collaboration networks, lower female representation in articles than expected in a non-gender biased environment, the decrease of female co-authors when the article leader is a man, and the extreme masculinization of the editorial boards. The homophilic dynamics of the publication process reveals that academic activity is pervasive to unbalanced power relationships. Personal interactions shape the collective experience, tracing back to the Feminist Theory’s axiom: “the personal is political”.