Women still vastly underrepresented in medical journals: study

Progress in gender and racial parity in the two biggest medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association is almost stagnant, as rates of parity have been slow to improve over the last decade, according to a March 21 study

The group of six international researchers, led by first author Moustafa Abdalla, collected 278,461 JAMA articles from 1883 to May 2020 and 182,675 NEJM articles published from 1812 to May 2020, both representing more than 90 percent of all the articles ever posted during those times. They then analyzed the names of the first and last authors of the articles and categorized them by gender.

In 2011, JAMA, hit an all time high of female authors at 38.1 percent and in 2002 NEJM hit its gender parity peak at 28.2 percent. The rate of progress for gender parity is also extremely slow. At the current rate of increase, it would take more than a century for both the NEJM and JAMA to reach gender parity. 

When analyzing names against the census to evaluate likely racial origins of authors, the study found that in 2008 only 5.2 percent of first authors in JAMA articles were Black and in 2018, only 2.8 percent were Hispanic. In the NEJM, Black first authors represented 6.9 percent of all authors in 2019 and Hispanic first authors represented only 3.9 percent in 2016.

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