Author Gender Inequality in Medical Imaging Journals and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Radiology. 2021 Jul;300(1):E301-E307. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2021204417. Epub 2021 Mar 16.


Background Early reports show the unequal effect the COVID-19 pandemic might have on men versus women engaged in medical research. Purpose To investigate whether the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on scientific publishing by female physicians in medical imaging. Materials and Methods The authors conducted a descriptive bibliometric analysis of the gender of the first and last authors of manuscripts submitted to the top 50 medical imaging journals from March to May 2020 (n = 2480) compared with the same period of the year in 2018 (n = 2238) and 2019 (n = 2355). Manuscript title, date of submission, first and last names of the first and last authors, journal impact factor, and author country of provenance were recorded. The Gender-API software was used to determine author gender. Statistical analysis comprised χ2 tests and multivariable logistic regression. Results Percentages of women listed as first and last authors were 31.6% (1172 of 3711 articles) and 19.3% (717 of 3711 articles), respectively, in 2018-2019 versus 32.3% (725 of 2248 articles) and 20.7% (465 of 2248 articles) in 2020 (P = .61 and P = .21, respectively). For COVID-19-related articles, 35.2% (89 of 253 articles) of first authors and 20.6% (52 of 253 articles) of last authors were women. No associations were found between first- and last-author gender, year of publication, and region of provenance. First and last authorship of high-ranking articles was not in favor of North American women whatever the year (odds ratio [OR], 0.79 [P = .05] and 0.72 [P = .02], respectively). Higher rates of female last authorship of high-ranking articles were observed in Europe (P = .003) and of female first authorship of low-ranking publications in Asia in 2020 (OR, 1.38; 95% CI: 0.98, 1.92; P = .06). Female first and last authorship of COVID-19-related articles was overrepresented for lowest-rank publications (P = .02 and P = .01, respectively). Conclusion One in three first authors and one in five last authors were women in 2018-2019 and 2020, respectively. Although the first 2020 lockdown did not diminish the quantity of women-authored publications, the impact on the quality was variable. ©RSNA, 2021 See also the editorial by Robbins and Khosa in this issue.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quarantine
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sexism / statistics & numerical data*