Correspondence was published in this week's Nature in response to an editorial discussing the journal's efforts to include more women in its pages. The response is pretty short, so including it in full here:
The publication of research papers should be based on quality and merit, so the gender balance of authors is not relevant in the same way as it might be for commissioned writers (see Nature 504,188; 2013). Neither is the disproportionate number of male reviewers evidence of gender bias.
Having young children may prevent a scientist from spending as much time publishing, applying for grants and advancing their career as some of their colleagues. Because it is usually women who stay at home with their children, journals end up with more male authors on research articles. The effect is exacerbated in fast-moving fields, in which taking even a year out threatens to leave a researcher far behind.
This means that there are likely to be more men in the pool of potential referees.
Ah yes. I have heard this argument before. True, women are still highly underrepresented in many scientific fields, but this is quickly changing. My field (biology) has women in pretty equal ratios in PhD and post-doctoral programs (the folk actually doing the benchwork and making up the first authorships). We still have a long way to go towards being equally represented in faculty, and work-life balance is probably a huge factor.
The tone of the response seems to suggest that the author is OK with the status quo, and his comment on the original article calling it "complete drivel" confirms my suspicion. Having fewer women in research doesn't mean it should be OK to ignore the issue! No! It means we should be making even more effort to make sure women can succeed in academia, rather than just assume we will want to stay home and pop out all the babies. Encourage work-life balance for both men and women. The successful women I've met have always said they've been able to do it with the full support of their husbands.
And I shouldn't stoop to this level, but I can't find any information on the author. I wanted to know what field he is in, but can't find anything beyond a sophomore in college (and really hoping it's not him).