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Research Letter |

Representation of Women as Authors, Reviewers, Editors in Chief, and Editorial Board Members at 6 General Medical Journals in 2010 and 2011 FREE

Thomas Christoph Erren, MD, MPH1; Juliane Valérie Groß, MD, MPH1; David Martin Shaw, PhD, MSc, MA, MML, PGCE2; Barbara Selle3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Institute and Policlinic for Occupational Medicine, Environmental Medicine, and Prevention Research, University Hospital of Cologne, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
2Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
3currently a medical student, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):633-635. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14760.
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Published online

Although more women continue to enter the medical profession, disparities between the sexes persist in academic medicine. This gender gap has implications for peer recognition and academic advancement. In 2006, Jagsi and colleagues1 reported that the proportion of women as the first and the senior (last listed) physician authors of original research significantly increased between 1970 and 2004. Women, however, still represented a minority of the authors of original research and editorials in 6 prominent medical journals. A related study2 found a substantial increase in the representation of women on editorial boards and as editors in chief of prominent journals.

Using data from January 2010 to December 2011, we determined the proportion of women who were authors of original research or editorials, reviewers, editors in chief, or editorial board members at 6 general medical journals: Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med), BMJ, JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine (JAMA Intern Med), TheLancet (Lancet), and TheNew England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

For original research and editorials, we categorized articles according to the sex of the first and the senior author. Original research included original articles (Ann Intern Med and NEJM), research articles (BMJ), original contributions (JAMA), original investigations (JAMA Intern Med), and articles (Lancet). Editorials included editorials (Ann Intern Med, BMJ, JAMA, and NEJM), invited commentaries (JAMA Intern Med), and comments (Lancet). We excluded editorials written by editors in chief. We used published lists to identify reviewers, and, in accordance with Jagsi et al,2 we obtained information about editors in chief and editorial board members from editorial mastheads. For BMJ, information on reviewers was available only for 2010. For Ann Intern Med, BMJ, and JAMA, information was available on all reviewers; for JAMA Intern Med and NEJM, those who reviewed 2 or more times; and for Lancet, those who reviewed 5 or more times. We determined the sex of the individuals using various methods, including inspecting the author’s name, consulting institutional webpages and social networking websites, and via Internet searches.

We identified 1999 original research articles, 1867 editorials, 16 242 reviewers, 7 editors in chief (2 for JAMA in 2010-2011), and 145 editorial board members who met the inclusion criteria. We classified the sex of 98% of the eligible individuals: 6511 first and senior authors of original research and editorials, 16 021 reviewers, 7 editors in chief, and 144 editorial board members.

Our findings are shown in the Figure. The percentage of women who were first author of original research ranged from 23.7% (NEJM) to 46.7% (BMJ); for last author, the range was 18.3% (Lancet) to 28.8% (BMJ). The percentage of women who were the first author of editorials ranged from 18.0% (NEJM) to 27.4% (BMJ); for last authors, the range was 19.6% (NEJM) to 32.3% (Ann Intern Med). The percentage of female reviewers ranged from 16.6% (NEJM) to 28.8% (BMJ). Four of the editors in chief were women and 3 were men. The percentage of women on editorial boards ranged from 22.2% (NEJM) to 41.7% (JAMA Intern Med).

Place holder to copy figure label and caption
Figure.
Representation of Women as First or Last Authors of Original Research or Editorials, Reviewers, and Editorial Board Members

The findings are based on the number of articles included in the analysis. Data were gathered for 2010 and 2011 for 6 major medical journals. Ann Intern Med indicates Annals of Internal Medicine; JAMA Intern Med, JAMA Internal Medicine; Lancet, The Lancet; and NEJM, The New England Journal of Medicine.

Graphic Jump Location

In 2010 and 2011, we found continued increases in the proportion of women among first and senior authors of original research in leading general medical journals compared with the findings by Jagsi et al1 through 2004. The proportion of women who were authors of editorials, editors in chief, or editorial board members also increased. Nonetheless, most research articles and editorials continue to be written by men. Women accounted for less than 30% of the reviewers at each of the 6 journals. Despite these increases, all of the leading general medical journals can further improve the representation of women in many capacities.

Corresponding Author: Thomas Christoph Erren, MD, MPH, Institute and Policlinic for Occupational Medicine, Environmental Medicine, and Prevention Research, University Hospital of Cologne, University of Cologne, Kerpener Strasse, 61, D-50938 Cologne, Germany (tim.erren@uni-koeln.de).

Published Online: February 24, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14760.

Author Contributions: Drs Erren and Groß had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Study concept and design: Erren, Groß, Selle.

Acquisition of data: All authors.

Analysis and interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Erren, Shaw.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Erren.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Erren, Groß, Shaw, Selle.

Study supervision: Erren.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Jagsi  R, Guancial  EA, Worobey  CC,  et al.  The “gender gap” in authorship of academic medical literature—a 35-year perspective. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(3):281-287.
PubMed   |  Link to Article
Jagsi  R, Tarbell  NJ, Henault  LE, Chang  Y, Hylek  EM.  The representation of women on the editorial boards of major medical journals: a 35-year perspective. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(5):544-548.
PubMed   |  Link to Article

Figures

Place holder to copy figure label and caption
Figure.
Representation of Women as First or Last Authors of Original Research or Editorials, Reviewers, and Editorial Board Members

The findings are based on the number of articles included in the analysis. Data were gathered for 2010 and 2011 for 6 major medical journals. Ann Intern Med indicates Annals of Internal Medicine; JAMA Intern Med, JAMA Internal Medicine; Lancet, The Lancet; and NEJM, The New England Journal of Medicine.

Graphic Jump Location

Tables

References

Jagsi  R, Guancial  EA, Worobey  CC,  et al.  The “gender gap” in authorship of academic medical literature—a 35-year perspective. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(3):281-287.
PubMed   |  Link to Article
Jagsi  R, Tarbell  NJ, Henault  LE, Chang  Y, Hylek  EM.  The representation of women on the editorial boards of major medical journals: a 35-year perspective. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(5):544-548.
PubMed   |  Link to Article

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