Female authorship in academic gastroenterology

Dr. LongMichelle T. Long, MD, from the Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA discusses this article “Female authorship in major academic gastroenterology journals: a look over 20 years.”

This was a retrospective study to determine the representation of female physicians among authors of original research in major US gastroenterology journals.

Although more women are entering the medical profession, women still face a number of barriers in academic medicine. Prior work suggests that women are more likely to choose academic practices but are less likely to hold the more advanced academic positions. Publication in medical journals is highly regarded in the promotion process and the gender distribution of authors of published research in gastroenterology is not known.

This is the first study describing the gender distribution of authors in gastroenterology journals. After reviewing 6,490 original research articles over 5 year intervals between 1992 and 2012, we included 2,275 articles in the final analysis of US based physician authors. Overall, we demonstrated a significant increase in the proportion of female physician authors, in either the first or senior author position, for original research articles. Trends varied for individual journals, with no increase in female first or senior authorship demonstrated for Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology or for female senior authorship in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy over the years examined.

Figure 1. A, Proportion of overall female authors (yellow) and of women among academic gastroenterologists (green) from 1992 to 2012. Data from the American Medical Association were used to determine the proportion of women among academic gastroenterologists. At each 5-year interval, overall female authorship was significantly lower compared with the proportion of women among academic gastroenterologists (P < .05, except for 1997 (P = .56). B, Proportion of female first authors (blue), female senior authors (red ) among female academic gastroenterologists (green) from 1992 to 2012. Compared with the proportion of female academic gastroenterologists, female first authorship was similar (P value for all years > .3), but female senior authorship was significantly lower (P < .004) except for 1997 (P = .18).

We found that female senior authorship was significantly less than expected compared with the proportion of women in academic gastroenterology practices, whereas female first authorship occurred at the expected proportion. Female first authorship was associated with female authorship in the senior author position. Other predictors of female authorship included year of publication and research topic. Finally, overall female authorship of editorials did not significantly increase over time, and the absolute representation of women among authors of editorials is low.

Further research should explore potential reasons for this lower rate of female senior authorship, whether related to individual preferences or more systematic issues.

Read the accompanying editorial online.

The information presented in Endoscopedia reflects the opinions of the authors and does not represent the position of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). ASGE expressly disclaims any warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied, and is not liable for damages of any kind in connection with the material, information, or procedures set forth.

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