Women underrepresented on editorial boards of 60 major medical journals

Gend Med. 2011 Dec;8(6):378-87. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2011.10.007.


Background: Although there has been a continuous increase in the number of women working in the field of medicine, women rarely reach the highest academic positions as full professors or editorial board members.

Objective: We aimed to determine the proportion of women on the editorial boards of top-ranked medical journals in different medical specialties.

Methods: We analyzed the gender of editorial board members of 60 top-ranked journals of 12 Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports categories. A total of 4175 editors were included in our analysis.

Results: Only 15.9% (10 of 63) editors-in-chief were female. In the 5 categories, critical care, anesthesiology, orthopedics, ophthalmology and radiology, nuclear medicine and medical imaging, currently not 1 woman holds the position of editor-in-chief. Less than one fifth (17.5%, 719 of 4112) of all editorial board members were women. There were significant differences among the evaluated categories, with the highest percentage of women in the category of medicine, general and internal and the lowest in the category critical care, followed by orthopedics. In every category, the proportion of women as editorial board members was substantially lower than that of men.

Conclusions: Women are underrepresented on the editorial boards of major medical journals, although there is a great variability among the journals and categories analyzed. If more women are nominated to serve on editorial boards, they will be a visible sign of continuing progress and serve as important role models for young women contemplating a career in academic medicine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hierarchy, Social*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prejudice
  • Publishing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Societies, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Specialization
  • Women's Rights
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workforce