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Original research
Quantifying gender disparity in physician authorship among commentary articles in three high-impact medical journals: an observational study
  1. Mira Mamtani1,
  2. Frances Shofer2,
  3. Anita Mudan2,
  4. Utsha Khatri3,
  5. Rachael Walker4,
  6. Jeanmarie Perrone2,
  7. Jaya Aysola5
  1. 1Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  5. 5Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mira Mamtani; mira.mamtani{at}


Background Scholarship plays a direct role in career advancement, promotion and authoritative recognition, and women physicians remain under-represented as authors of original research articles.

Objective We sought to determine if women physician authors are similarly under-represented in commentary articles within high-impact journals.

Design/Setting/Participants In this observational study, we abstracted and analysed author information (gender and degree) and authorship position from commentary articles published in three high-impact journals between 1 January 2014 and 16 October 2018.

Primary outcome measure Authorship rate of commentary articles over a 5-year period by gender, degree, authorship position and journal.

Secondary outcome measures To compare the proportion of men and women physician authorship of commentaries relative to the proportion of men and women physician faculty within academic medicine; and to examine the gender concordance among the last and first authors in articles with more than one author.

Results Of the 2087 articles during the study period, 48% were men physician first authors compared with 17% women physician first authors (p<0.0001). Of the 1477 articles with more than one author, similar distributions were found with regard to last authors: 55% were men physicians compared with only 12% women physicians (p<0.0001). The proportion of women physician first authors increased over time; however, the proportion of women physician last authors remained stagnant. Women coauthored with women in the first and last authorship positions in 9% of articles. In contrast, women coauthored with men in the first and last author positions, respectively, in 55% of articles.

Conclusions Women physician authors remain under-represented in commentary articles compared with men physician authors in the first and last author positions. Women also coauthored commentaries with other women in far fewer numbers.

  • gender disparity
  • authorship
  • commentary articles

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  • Contributors MM and FS had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and accuracy of the data analysis. Concept and design: MM, JA, JP. Acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data: MM, JA, JP, AM, UK, RW, FS. Drafting of the manuscript: MM, JA. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: MM, JA, JP, AM, UK, RW. Statistical analysis: FS. Supervision: JA, JP.

  • 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.

  • Patient and public involvement statement It was not appropriate or possible to involve patients or the public in the design, conduct, reporting or dissemination of our research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Our institutional review board granted exempt status to this study.

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

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad Data Repository at (doi:10.5061/dryad.t6855h4).

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