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Study: Female authorship of pediatric research articles increasing

September 21, 2023

Women increasingly are leading authors of pediatric research articles and serving as journal editorial board members, according to a new study.

Researchers found women’s rates of authorship roughly match their representation on academic faculty.

“Given the predominance of women in pediatrics in the US, this is a major step for equity and inclusion in the field,” authors wrote in “Representation of Women in Published Articles at 3 Academic Pediatric Journals: 2001 to 2022,” (Williams WA, et al. Pediatrics. Sept. 20, 2023).

Women make up about 73% of pediatric residents in the U.S., according to the study. However, studies have shown they have lower compensation, promotion rates and grant funding than their male colleagues.

Researchers set out to look at trends for female authorship of journal articles and editorial board makeup by analyzing more than 4,000 research articles from three pediatric journals — Pediatrics from the AAP, The Journal of Pediatrics from the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs and JAMA Pediatrics from the American Medical Association — from 2001-’22. The team used first names to discern gender of the authors, which they acknowledged was a limitation.

Across all three journals, the team found a 24% increase in women as first authors, 16% increase in women as senior authors and 29% increase in women on editorial boards from 2001-’22. The percentages of U.S. and international women as authors were similar, and there were no significant differences in female authorship among the journals in 2022.

Researchers looked at how authorship compares to the number of U.S. women in faculty positions at academic medical centers using Association of American Medical Colleges data. In 2022, about 67% of first authors were women, while women made up about 69% of junior faculty. About 48% of senior authors and 48% of editorial board members were women, equivalent to the proportion holding senior faculty positions.

Researchers said the results were “encouraging” but urged a closer look at the difference between the percentage of women in junior faculty positions and those in senior positions.

“To ensure that the advances in women-first authorship translate to career retention and promotion, we need to better understand the challenges women face in their career trajectories,” they wrote.


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