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Member Research and Reports

Harvard: Women Scientists Author Fewer Invited Commentaries in Medical Journals Than Men with Comparable Credentials

Women scientists were 21 percent less likely to author invited commentaries in medical journals during a five-year period than men with similar scientific expertise, seniority, and publication metrics, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and in collaboration with Elsevier. They found that the disparity was larger for women who were further progressed in their careers, reaching as high as 40 percent for the most senior authors.

In medical journals, publication of an invited commentary is a recognition of expertise and can raise an author’s profile.

“I was genuinely surprised by the size of the gender gap we found,” said first author Ms. Emma Thomas, a doctoral student in the Department of Biostatistics. “As a young female scientist, I hoped that we might achieve gender parity in authorship of invited articles naturally as more women progressed to the top of the scientific pipeline. Our results suggest that may not be the case.”

The study was published online in JAMA Network Open on October 23, 2019.

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