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Invited Commentary
Medical Journals and Publishing
October 23, 2019

Underrepresentation of Women Among Authors of Invited Commentaries in Medical Journals—Where Are the Female Editorialists?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Headache, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Head of Research, The BMJ, London, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(10):e1913665. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13665

To the growing list of gender-based disparities faced by women in academic medicine, we can add 1 more: on average, across thousands of medical journals, women with comparable credentials and experience are less likely than men to author invited commentary articles (ie, editorials).1 Smaller studies, limited to specific disciplines, suggested this was the case but did not account for factors that are likely to be associated with invitations to write editorials, such as publication history.2,3 Thomas and colleagues1 reported on their examination of 72 038 medical journal commentary articles published from 2013 to 2017. The researchers used validated methods to infer author gender and matched commentary authors to controls on characteristics likely to be associated with invitations, including field of expertise, seniority, number of publications, and citation record. Adjustment for these confounders attenuated but did not eliminate the substantial differences in favor of men.1 Surprisingly, the magnitude of the disadvantage was larger for senior women. Overall, the odds of authoring an editorial were 21% lower for women compared with men.1 However, for the most senior women, the odds of authoring an editorial were 31% lower than for men with comparable credentials.1

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