Objective: To assess whether manuscripts received by JAMA in 1991 possessed differing peer review and manuscript processing characteristics, or had a variable chance of acceptance, associated with the gender of the participants in the peer review process.
Design: Retrospective cohort study of 1851 research articles.
Setting: JAMA editorial office.
Participants: Eight male and five female JAMA editors, 2452 male and 930 female reviewers, and 1698 male and 462 female authors.
Main outcome measure: Statistically significant gender bias.
Results: Female editors were assigned manuscripts from female corresponding authors more often than were male editors (P < .001). Female editors used more reviewers per manuscript if sent for other review. Male reviewers assisted male editors more often than female editors, and male reviewers took longer to return manuscripts than did their female counterparts (median, 25 vs 22 days). Content reviewer recommendations were independent of corresponding author and review gender, while male statistical reviewers recommended the highest and lowest categories more frequently than did female statistical reviewers (P < .001). Manuscripts handled by female editors were rejected summarily at higher rates (P < .001). Articles submitted to JAMA in 1991 were not accepted at significantly different rates based on the gender of the corresponding author or the assigned editor (P < .4).
Conclusions: Gender differences exist in editor and reviewer characteristics at JAMA with no apparent effect on the final outcome of the peer review process or acceptance for publication.