Valerie Hudson, who was number 97 in Foreign Policy magazine's year-end collection, sent her study, "Bare Branches," to several publishers, only to face rejection each time.
Depressed, she finally told her co-author, Andrea den Boer, that if they were going to face rejection, they might as well start at the top and work their way down.
"The top journal took it without revision," she said. "We didn't think anyone was going to listen at all to what we had to say, then it went utterly viral."
Their findings, published in a book by The MIT Press, detail the dangers of gender imbalance in Asia and the problems of an overabundance of young males.
The research was lauded by the magazine as an "indispensable 2004 study (that) may have been partially responsible for the scaling back of China's one-child policy," according to Foreign Policy magazine.