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Comparison of the contributions of female and male authors to medical research in 2000 and 2015: a cross-sectional study
  1. Angele Gayet-Ageron,
  2. Antoine Poncet,
  3. Thomas Perneger
  1. Medical Directorate / Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve, Geneva, GE, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Angele Gayet-Ageron; angele.gayet-ageron{at}


Objectives The proportion of women engaged in clinical research has increased over time. However, it is unclear if women and men contribute to the same extent during the conduct of research and, if so, if they are equally rewarded by a strategic first or last author position. We aim to describe the prevalence of women authors of original articles published 15 years apart and to compare the research contributions and author positions according to gender.

Design Repeated cross-sectional study.

Setting Published original articles.

Participants 1910 authors of 223 original articles published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000 and 2015.

Primary and secondary outcomes measures Self-reported contributions to 10 aspects of the article (primary) and author position on the byline.

Results The proportion of women authors increased from 32% (n=243) to 41% (n=469) between 2000 and 2015 (p<0.0001). In 2000, women authors were less frequently involved than men in the conception and design (134 (55%) vs 323 (61%); p=0.0256), critical revision (171 (70%) vs 426 (81%); p=0.0009), final approval (196 (81%) vs 453 (86%); p=0.0381) and obtaining of funding (39 (16%) vs 114 (22%); p=0.0245). Women were more frequently involved than men in administration and logistics (85 (35%) vs 137 (26%); p=0.0188) and data collection (121 (50%) vs 242 (46%); p=0.0532), but they were similarly involved in the analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of the manuscript, provision of materials/patients and statistical expertise. Women were less often last authors than men (22 (9%) vs 82 (16%); p=0.0102). These gender differences persisted in 2015.

Conclusions The representation of women among authors of medical articles increased notably between 2000 and 2015, but still remained below 50%. Women’s roles differed from those of men with no change over time.

  • gender
  • publication
  • research
  • authorship

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  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Contributors AG-A participated in the conception & design; analysis & interpretation of data and she performed the statistical analyses. She contributed to the provision of study materials, collection & assembly of data, and she also provided administrative, technical, or logistic support. She drafted the first version of the manuscript and participated to the critical revision of it for important intellectual content. She has approved final version of the article. AP, TP participated in the conception & design; analysis & interpretation of data. They contributed to the provision of study materials, collection & assembly of data and also to administrative, technical, or logistic support. They participated to the critical revision of the article for important intellectual content. They have approved final version of the article.

  • 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.

  • Data sharing statement No unrestricted data sharing at this time. Interested parties may contact the corresponding author to gain access to the dataset.

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