_CULTURE SOCIETY Equality

_Signed, Dr. Mister

Researchers found female physicians were underrepresented as authors in high-impact pediatric journals, despite dominating the field.

_Nancy Spector

Spector, MD, is a professor of pediatrics and associate dean of faculty development at the College of Medicine.

_Julie Silver

Silver, MD, is an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

A new JAMA study undertaken by researchers at Drexel’s College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School found that female physicians are underrepresented as opinion article authors in the four highest-impact pediatric journals — even though most (around 62 percent) pediatricians are women.

The researchers identified 336 “perspective-type” articles written by physicians of known genders that were published between 2013 and 2017 in the four highest-impact general pediatric journals: Academic Pediatrics, JAMA Pediatrics, The Journal of Pediatrics, and Pediatrics. Out of those articles, almost 60 percent were written by men, with just 140 (42 percent) authored by female physicians.

“Intentional inclusion and solicitation of women authors by medical journals is a concrete and immediate action that can be taken to rectify some of the imbalance that we found in this study. Inclusion needs to be a standard that is upheld by journal editors and society leaders.”

—Nancy Spector

Nancy Spector, MD, professor of pediatrics and associate dean of faculty development at Drexel’s College of Medicine, co-authored the study with Julie Silver, MD, an associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

Spector and her colleagues point to the well-documented issue of gender disparity on journal editorial boards and unconscious bias as possible reasons for the findings.

Spector serves as executive director of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program, a one-year fellowship aimed at expanding the national pool of qualified women candidates for leadership positions in health care.