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Gender equity in surgical literature authorship: Are we there yet?

  • Shannon Jordan
    Affiliations
    Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Juliet Emamaullee
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. 1510 San Pablo Street, Suite 412, Los Angeles, CA, 90033, USA.
    Affiliations
    Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Division of Abdominal Organ Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Search for articles by this author
      Despite increasing gender parity in the pipeline involving both medical school matriculants and surgical training programs, the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ of academic advancement and leadership persists for women surgeons across specialties, practice types, and geography.
      • Greenberg C.C.
      Association for Academic Surgery presidential address: sticky floors and glass ceilings.

      Nguyen Q, Luc JGY, Lawton JS, et al. Gender Representation Among Principal Investigators in Cardiac Surgery Clinical Trials in the United States: The Glass Ceiling and Room for Improvement. Ann Surg. Published online June 2021. doi:10.1097/SLA.0000000000004961.

      • Marquez J.E.
      • Zaransky S.
      • Scheiner A.
      • et al.
      Is the glass-ceiling higher than we think? Sex disparity trends in physician executive positions and academic plastic surgery.
      • Dumitra T.C.
      • Alam R.
      • Fiore J.F.J.
      • et al.
      Is there a gender bias in the advancement to SAGES leadership?.
      A key aspect of academic promotion involves publication track record and its associated impact as a measure of national or international reputation. In “The Evolving Gender Distribution in Authorship Over Time in American Surgery,” Tran et al. explored the gender of first and senior authors within five American surgical journals over three eras: 1997, 2007, and 2017.

      Tran TB, Wong P, Raoof M, Melstrom K, Fong Y, Melstrom LG. The evolving gender distribution in authorship over time in American surgery. Am J Surg. Published online May 2022. doi:10.1016/j.amjsurg.2022.05.029.

      Importantly, this evaluation demonstrated that there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of women authors from approximately 15% in 1997 to over 52% in 2017 for both first and corresponding authorship (p < 0.001). However, a large discrepancy in female authorship was observed within the subset of basic science publications, with only 17.4% of first authors and 8.8% of senior authors being women (P < 0.001). This manuscript is unique in that it evaluated a broad range of specialties and journals over a 20-year period and highlights that the gender publication gap is improving but remains a persistent issue in surgery, particularly among basic science investigators.
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