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Gender imbalance in gynecologic oncology authorship and impact of COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Sarah Jill Mah1,2,
  2. Mallika Makkar3,
  3. Kathy Huang3,
  4. Tharani Anpalagan3,
  5. Clare J Reade1,2 and
  6. Julie My Van Nguyen1,2
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Jill Mah, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, L8V 5C2, Canada; sarahjill.mah{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Objective Despite increased participation of women in academic medicine in recent decades, gender disparities persist. The gender gap in authorship and editorial boards in gynecologic oncology, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have not been recently evaluated. We examined gender representation and the impact of COVID-19 on authorship and editorial boards of two major peer-reviewed gynecologic oncology journals.

Methods We conducted a bibliometric analysis of original articles published in Gynecologic Oncology and the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, comparing the most contemporary 5-year period (2016–2020) to single years in the two prior decades (1996, 2006). To assess the early impact of COVID-19, we compared publications from May 2020–April 2021 to 2019. Editorial boards were analyzed for gender composition. First names, pronouns, and institutional photographs were used to determine gender.

Results There were 3022 original articles published between 2016 and 2020, 763 in 2006, and 203 in 1996. Gender was identified for 91.3% of first authors (3641 articles) and 95.6% of senior authors (3813 articles). Men comprised the majority of the editorial boards in 2021 at 57% and 61% for Gynecologic Oncology and the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, respectively. Men were overrepresented as senior authors across all study periods: 93% in 1996, 77% in 2006, and 58% in 2016–2020. Over time, representation of women as first and senior authors increased (7% in 1996, 42% in 2016–2020, p<0.00001). There was no immediate impact of the early pandemic on gender distribution of authorship.

Conclusions Despite greater representation of women over time as authors in gynecologic oncology journals, there remains gender disparity in senior authorship and editorial board representation. This presents an opportunity for the academic publishing community to advocate for deliberate strategies to achieve gender parity. Although no impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic was found, this requires ongoing surveillance.

  • COVID-19
  • gynecology
  • genital neoplasms, female

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. In accordance with the journal’s guidelines, we will provide our data for the reproducibility of this study in other centers if such is requested.

This article is made freely available for personal use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. In accordance with the journal’s guidelines, we will provide our data for the reproducibility of this study in other centers if such is requested.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @SarahJMahMD

  • Contributors JMVN: principal investigator and guarantor, conceptualization and methodology, study supervision, formal analysis and manuscript writing, review, and editing. SJM: conceptualization, methodology, data curation, project administration, and writing the original draft. CJR: conceptualization and writing, review, and editing. MM, KH, TA: data curation, project administration, and manuscript writing, review, and editing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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