A magnifying glass hovers over the Nature International journal of science logo on a computer screen

Credit: Ilnur Khisamutdinov/Alamy

In June 2021, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora turned a magnifying glass on Nature’s written journalism. Computational biologists Natalie Davidson and Casey Greene reported that most of the individuals we quoted were male.

Using automated methods, the authors found that 69% of the people quoted directly in Nature’s written journalism in 2020 were male (N. R. Davidson and C. S. Greene Preprint at bioRxiv https://doi.org/gkscd5; 2021). This figure had been falling — the authors’ analysis of some 16,000 articles published between 2005 and 2020 found that the number was 87% in 2005 — but 69% was still unacceptably high.

The journal’s editorial teams collectively pledged to work harder to improve the diversity of those whose words or voices are quoted or paraphrased in our reporting (see Nature 594, 473–474; 2021). In April 2021, we began a pilot project to track aspects of diversity in some of Nature’s journalism more systematically. That September, we began tracking diversity in journalistic content across all relevant teams. This week, we’re reporting data for 1,118 written articles and 123 podcasts and videos published between 1 April 2021 and 31 January 2023. In the written pieces, Nature directly quoted or paraphrased the words of 5,252 people. The podcasts and videos featured the voices of a total of 240 people.

As part of our tracking efforts, members of Nature’s editorial teams recorded the preferred pronouns of those who were quoted or paraphrased, as well as their geographical location and career stage. We did not collect data on race or ethnicity for this phase of our project, but are working to widen the racial and ethnic diversity of our sources to make our reporting more representative of global science.

Our data show that people using he/him pronouns comprised around 55% of those quoted or paraphrased in written articles published since April 2021, with about 36% using she/her pronouns. There were 24 people with they/them pronouns, and 5 who used other pronouns (see ‘Nature’s journalism in charts’). The preferred pronouns of most of the remaining 9% are not known, meaning that of those who did disclose their preference, around 60% used he/him pronouns and some 40% used she/her.

Nature's journalism in charts: Breakdown of people quoted in Nature between 2021 and 2023 by gender, location and career stage.

Slightly more than 60% of those quoted or paraphrased in Nature’s written journalism were ‘established’ in their careers, meaning that they were professors or had tenure or another senior role. By contrast, 18% fell into the ‘early career’ category, which included graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and non-tenured faculty members. The ‘other’ category, which encompassed 11% of people, includes those in non-academic settings, such as campaigning organizations, industry and policymaking. Some 75% of all of those quoted were based in North America or Europe.

Of the 240 people quoted or featured in our podcast and video content, 48% used he/him pronouns (amounting to 52% of those who disclosed their pronouns). Some 60% of those featured were established in their careers, and 81% were based in North America or Europe.

These data show that we are continuing to make progress on gender diversity. But there is clearly still work to do, particularly when it comes to improving the global representation of voices in our pages, as well as the proportion of researchers at earlier career stages.

We will continue to record our data, and we aim to improve on these figures, proactively seeking out and trying to better represent voices from historically less-represented peoples and parts of the world. The result, we hope, will be better journalism derived from a more accurate representation of the diverse scientific community of which Nature is a part.