Gender in authorship and editorship in medical education journals: A bibliometric review

Med Educ. 2021 Jun;55(6):678-688. doi: 10.1111/medu.14427. Epub 2020 Dec 15.


Context: Gender bias has been observed in the authorship and editorship of academic literature in varied medical specialties. This is important as peer-reviewed publications, and participation on editorial boards, are closely related to academic productivity and advancement. The aim of this paper was to examine whether gender-based disparities in authorship and editorship exist in leading medical education journals.

Methods: A retrospective bibliometric review was conducted of articles published at eight different time-points across a 49-year time period (specifically: 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019) in four leading medical education journals (Academic Medicine, BMC Medical Education, Medical Education and Medical Teacher). First and last (as a proxy for senior) author gender was determined for each article, along with the gender of the 2019 editorial board members of each journal. Chi-square tests for trend were conducted to examine variations in author gender distributions over time, and binomial tests of proportions were conducted to examine gender distributions in authorship and editorship in 2019. Logistic regression analyses were carried out to determine factors that predicted the odds of authorship by women.

Results: A total of 5749 articles were included. A significant trend of increased women as first and last authors was observed across all journals. The percentage of women first authors increased from 6.6% in 1970 to 53.7% in 2019 (P < .001), and women last authors increased from 9.5% in 1970 to 46% in 2019 (P < .001). Overall, the distributions of women first authors, last authors and editorial board members in 2019 indicated greater gender parity than many other fields of medicine.

Conclusions: Positive progress towards gender parity has been made in medical education scholarship. However, future research and efforts are needed to ensure the continued participation, and highlighting, of women in medical education scholarship and to address other factors which may hinder academic advancement for women in this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Authorship
  • Bibliometrics
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexism