Impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic on Authorship Gender in The Journal of Pediatrics: Disproportionate Productivity by International Male Researchers

J Pediatr. 2021 Apr;231:50-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.12.032. Epub 2020 Dec 22.


Objective: To assess the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on authorship gender in articles submitted to The Journal of Pediatrics.

Study design: Using gender-labeling algorithms and human inspection, we inferred the gender of corresponding authors of original articles submitted in January-February and April-May of 2019 and 2020 noting those articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used Pearson χ2 tests to determine differences in gender proportions during the selected periods in the US and internationally.

Results: We analyzed 1521 original articles. Submissions increased 10.9% from January-February 2019 to January-February 2020 and 61.6% from April-May 2019 to April-May 2020. Women accounted for 56.0% of original articles in April-May 2019 but only 49.8% of original articles in April-May 2020. Original articles focused on COVID-19 represented a small percentage of additional articles submitted in January-February 2020 (1/33 or 3.0%) and (53/199 or 26.6%) in April-May 2020 compared with the number of submissions in the same months in 2019. International male corresponding authors submitted a significantly larger proportion of original articles compared with international female corresponding authors in April-May 2020 compared to April-May 2019 (P = .043). There was no difference in corresponding author gender proportion in the US (US in April-May of 2020 vs April-May of 2019; P = .95). There was no significant difference in final dispositions based on corresponding author gender for original articles from 2019 and 2020 (P = .17).

Conclusions: Original article submissions to The Journal increased in April-May 2020, with the greatest increase by international male corresponding authors. The majority of the submission growth was not related to COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; authorship; female physicians; gender; gender bias; international; pandemic; publications; women in pediatrics.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Bibliometrics*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics*
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Sex Factors