Gender Disparity in Authorship of Peer-Reviewed Medical Publications

Karla Bernardi, Nicole B. Lyons, Lillian Huang, Julie L. Holihan, Oscar A. Olavarria, Alexander C. Martin, Alexis N. Milton, Michele M. Loor, Feibi Zheng, Jon E. Tyson, Tien C. Ko, Mike K. Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Women are underrepresented in medicine despite increases in the percentage of female physicians. It is unknown if academic productivity contributes to these differences. We sought to determine whether gender disparity exists in peer-reviewed literature authorship in the United States from 2000 to 2017. Methods: Medical and surgical peer-reviewed research articles from the United States were retrospectively reviewed using PubMed from 2000 to 2017. Manuscripts were randomly selected within 4 different time periods: 2000-2005, 2006-2010, 2011-2015 and 2016-2017. The gender of the first and last authors was determined and the journal's impact factor recorded. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) databases were used to determine the percent of female residents, attendings and academic leadership positions. Primary outcome was the prevalence of female authors in peer-reviewed literature. Secondary aims were differences in disparity in medical versus surgical specialties, differences in publications' impact factor among gender and the association between gender and mentoring. Results: Within 1,120 articles reviewed, 31.6% of first authors and 19.4% of last authors were women. Female first and last authors increased over time and authorship was proportional to the number of women in the studied specialties at that specific time period (P = 0.78). There was no difference in the journal's impact factors between gender (P = 0.64). On subgroup analysis of medical and surgical subspecialties, results remained unchanged. Conclusions: Women publish research at a rate proportional to the number of academic female physicians. Disparities in leadership roles are unlikely explained by differences in publications. While gender disparities in medicine have improved, substantial disparities in leadership persist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-516
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Disparities in medicine
  • Disparities in research
  • Female physician
  • Gender disparity
  • Women representation
  • Humans
  • Sexism/prevention & control
  • Female
  • Peer Review, Research/standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Physicians, Women/standards
  • Authorship/standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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