The gender gap in peer-reviewed publications by physical therapy faculty members: a productivity puzzle

Phys Ther. 2011 Jan;91(1):122-31. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20100106. Epub 2010 Dec 2.


Background: Studies of peer-reviewed article publication by faculty in higher education show men publish more than women. Part of the difference in publishing appears to be attributable directly to gender. Gender differences in publishing productivity have not been explored in physical therapy.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore effects of gender on peer-reviewed publication productivity in physical therapy.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study using survey methods.

Methods: A survey was administered to a random sample of 881 physical therapy faculty members; 459 responses were used for analysis.

Results: Men were more likely than women to be married, have children, hold a PhD degree, be tenured or on a tenure track, and hold the position of department chair. There was a significant difference in peer-reviewed publication rates between male and female respondents. Negative binomial regression models revealed that female gender was a negative predictor of peer-reviewed publication, accounting for between 0.51 and 0.58 fewer articles per year for women than for men over the course of a career. Reasons for the gender differences are not clear.

Limitations: Factors such as grant funding, laboratory resources, nature of collaborative relationships, values for different elements of the teaching/research/service triad, and ability to negotiate the academic culture were not captured by our model.

Conclusions: The gender gap in peer-reviewed publishing productivity may have implications for individuals and the profession of physical therapy and should be subject to further exploration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Authorship*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Peer Review, Research
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / education
  • Publishing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*