Gender concordance and publication productivity within Neurosurgical Focus: a 10-year review (2013-2022)

Neurosurg Focus. 2023 Nov;55(5):E4. doi: 10.3171/2023.8.FOCUS23461.


Objective: The "leaky academic pipeline" describes how female representation in leadership positions has remained stagnant despite an increase in the number of female trainees. Female mentorship to female mentees, and female role models at higher academic positions have been shown to positively influence academic productivity. To the authors' knowledge, the impact of female editorial board representation on authorship trends in neurosurgical journals remains undescribed. This study aimed to analyze trends in the representation of female topic editors and its impact on female authorship within Neurosurgical Focus over a 10-year period.

Methods: Publicly available data were collected from the journal's website, inclusive from January 2013 to December 2022. The articles were grouped into technical and nontechnical themes based on their relevance to specific technical details regarding surgical techniques. Female gender-concordant publications were defined as publications having a female first author (or co-first author) and a female senior author. Linear regression analysis determined trends in publishing. Odds ratios and 95% CIs were calculated using logistic regression analysis. Pearson correlation and cross-correlation analyses were used to examine each pairwise comparison of time series. The statistical significance of associations was evaluated using t-tests and chi-square and Fisher's exact tests.

Results: The number of female topic editors and gender-concordant authors increased over time (p < 0.05). Women accounted for ≥ 50% of the topic editors on nontechnical themes relevant to education and gender diversity. Having a female senior author was associated with higher publication productivity for original research and review articles among female authors (OR 13.73, 95% CI 1.75-394.31; p < 0.05). Female authors had higher odds of publishing editorials with a female topic editor (OR 3.81, 95% CI 1.37-11.02; p < 0.01). Publications with female first and senior authors were significantly more likely to have female topic editors (OR 4.05, 95% CI 1.38-12.92; p < 0.01). A positive association was observed between female senior authors and female topic editors at lag -8, with a correlation coefficient of 0.19 (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Female attending-to-female trainee mentorship and female representation among editorial boards play a crucial role in enhancing academic productivity among women. Efforts to sustain academic productivity during the early-career period would presumably help increase female representation in neurosurgery.

Keywords: authorship; diversity; editorial representation; publication productivity; women in neurosurgery.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgery*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Time Factors