I suggest that journals should collect data at each stage of the peer-review process to help identify the barriers to publication that women face (see also J. Lerback and B. Hanson Nature 541, 455–457; 2017). Author gender needs to be incorporated into data on the numbers of manuscripts sent out for review, resubmitted after revision, and appealed against, successfully or unsuccessfully, by rejected authors.

I conducted a literature survey of my field (HIV) and found that, in 2015–16, less than 10% of papers in Nature (4/17; 24%) and Science (0/24; 0%) together had a woman as the senior corresponding author. Although this sample is small and taken over a short period, the result is surprising, given the large number of women who served as organizer or chair at every major meeting in this field during that time and who represented roughly half of all US National Institutes of Health HIV study-section chairs. There is evidently a significant pool of strong women scientists in the field.

Comparison of key-stage evaluation data for male and female lead authors on accepted and rejected papers could shed light on gender bias in publication. For example, a reluctance to appeal may be more common among women. Understanding whether such factors contribute to gender-biased outcomes should help to counteract them.