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March 10, 2008

Women in Leadership Positions in the Medical Academic Enterprise: What Are the Next Steps?

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(5):449-450. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2007.127

In this issue of the Archives, Jagsi and colleagues1 rigorously examine the representation of women as editors and editorial board members of 16 major biomedical journals that published research from 1970 through 2005. Although the percentage of women on the editorial boards increased during these 35 years, women continue to constitute a minority of such board members: 21.5% in general medical journals, 25% in clinical specialty medical journals, and 14.5% in biomedical science journals. Noteworthy is the 27% membership of women on the editorial boards of Canadian and British general medical journals, in contrast to 12% for the 2 US general medical journals, based solely on 1-year snapshot data, whose representative nature is open to challenge. An analysis of the effect of the gender of editors, reviewers, and corresponding authors of 1991 JAMA manuscripts, examining the peer-review process for unintended bias, did not identify any apparent gender effect on the final outcome of this review process or acceptance for publication2; however, given the delay in publication, it is uncertain whether these gender characteristics were contemporaneous.