Gender Differences in Authorship of Critical Care Literature

Abstract [from journal]

Rationale: Gender gaps exist in academic leadership positions in critical care. Peer-reviewed publications are crucial to career advancement, yet little is known regarding gender differences in authorship of critical care research.

Objectives: To evaluate gender differences in authorship of critical care literature.

Methods: We used a validated database of author gender to analyze authorship of critical care articles indexed in PubMed between 2008-2018 in 40 frequently-cited journals. High-impact journals were defined as those in the top 5% of all journals. We used mixed-effects logistic regression to evaluate the association of senior author gender with first and middle author gender, and first author gender with journal impact factor.

Results: Among 18,483 studies, 30.8% had female first authors and 19.5% had female senior authors. Female authorship rose slightly over the last decade (average annual increase of 0.44% (p<0.01) and 0.51% (p<0.01) for female first and senior authors, respectively). When the senior author was female, the odds of female co-authorship rose substantially (first author aOR1.93, 95%CI:1.71-2.17; middle author aOR1.48, 95%CI:1.29-1.69). Female first authors had higher odds of publishing in lower-impact journals than men (aOR1.30, 95%CI:1.16-1.45).

Conclusions: Women comprise less than one-third of first authors and one-quarter of senior authors of critical care research, with minimal increase over the past decade. When the senior author was female, the odds of female co-authorship rose substantially. However, female first authors tend to publish in lower-impact journals. These findings may help explain the underrepresentation of women in critical care academic leadership positions and identify targets for improvement.