Gender Gaps in Invited Commentaries for Medical Journals

In medical journals, publication of an invited commentary is a recognition of expertise and can raise an author’s profile. A recent press release outlines the findings from a study led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Elsevier, published online in JAMA Network Open on October 23, 2019. The size of the gender gap in invited commentaries surprised the first author of the paper, Biostats doctoral student Emma Thomas, who found that women scientists were 21% less likely to author invited commentaries in medical journals during a five-year period than men with similar scientific expertise, seniority, and publication metrics. Moreover, disparity was larger for women who were further progressed in their careers, reaching as high as 40% for the most senior authors. According to senior author Francesca Dominici, “these findings challenge the common assumption that gender disparities in authorship of prestigious scientific articles exist because there are fewer women with sufficient experience and expertise to write these articles”.