Gender disparity: Women underrepresented in radiology journal editorial boards

There is a gender gap in the editorial boards of radiology journals, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“Peer-reviewed scientific publishing is one of the most important factors assessed during considerations for promotion and tenure in academic medicine,” wrote lead author David Yousem, MD, MBA, of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues. “As one obtains higher academic rank, one may also rise to leadership positions in departments more easily. In addition to publications, officer positions in professional societies, membership on National Institutes of Health study sections, and editorial board placement in well-respected journals reflect advancement in an academic career.”

Yousem and colleagues sought to determine if a gender disparity exists within American scientific radiology publications and hypothesized a greater percentage of original research authored by women than the percentage of women on editorial boards.

Nine journals with the highest impact factor were included in the analysis: Radiology, Human Brain Mapping, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, American Journal of Neuroradiology, Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Brain Imaging and Behavior, RadioGraphics, NMR in Biomedicine, and the American Journal of Roentgenology.

They determined the gender of the first and senior author for all original scientific articles published in the month of May from 2002 to 2017 and obtained details about the journals' editorial boards. A total of 3,702 first authors, 3,702 senior authors and 9,400 editorial board members were included in the analysis. The following trends were found:

  • Women were a minority on the editorial boards of every journal throughout the entirety of the study period and there was no female editor-in-chief for any of the journal-years.
  • The percentage of women on editorial boards was lower than the percentage of women as first authors for every journal each year.
  • The percentage of women on editorial boards was lower than the percentage of women as senior authors in 86 percent of journal-years.
  • There was an overall increasing trend in the percentage of women as first authors, senior authors and editorial board members throughout the study period.
  • There was no increase or decrease trend in the gap between the percentages of women as first or senior authors and women on editorial boards when all nine journals are viewed together throughout the study period.
  • The percentage of women as first authors ranged from 10 to 50 percent, the percentage of women as senior authors ranged from 5.9 to 50 percent and the percentage of women as editorial board members ranged from 2.7 to 32.7 percent.

The authors noted this gender gap is not restricted to radiology—it is prevalent among many specialties, including ophthalmology, otolaryngology, dermatology, emergency medicine, OB/GYN and internal medicine, among others.

Still, Yousem and colleagues believe inequality should be “rectified in the coming decade.” To address the editorial board disparity, they recommended using the previous year’s authorship statistics to create the next year’s editorial board. Additionally, they said, gender should be a factor when hiring for editors-in-chief because of the potential downstream benefits female leadership may have on female radiologists.

“If women have different perspectives and conclusions than their male colleagues, new approaches might emerge to maintain a steady flow of new ideas for improvements in American radiology journals,” Yousem et al. concluded.