Increase in Female Dermatologists Coincided with Decrease in Female Authorship in Dermatology

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These data demonstrate a unique dichotomy between 2 trends associated with gender gaps in the field of dermatology.

Credit: Pexels

Credit: Pexels

The previous 15 years show that an increase in female dermatologists coincided with a decrease in senior female authorship in high-level dermatology journals, according to recent findings.1

These findings resulted from new research into gender-related disparities in dermatology research, conducted in Israel. Prior studies had been conducted to assess gender gaps, with 1 demonstrating that female authorship in journals had increased between 1992 - 2019, from 37 to 66% for first authors and from 27 to 61% for senior authors.2,3,4

To add to the body of research on this topic, a new study was led by Barak Zlakishvili, MD, of the dermatology department at Soroka University Medical Center in Be’er-Sheva, Israel. Zlakishvili et al. noted that in prior analyses, trends had indicated lower first and senior female authorship than those of sub-analyses on dermatology subfields such as pediatrics.

“Therefore, to further validate and report gender disparities in high-quality dermatology research, we focused our analysis on the 100 most-cited articles published in the top 5 Q1 dermatology journals in 3-year intervals between 2009 and 2023,” Zlakishvili and colleagues wrote.

Background and Design

The investigators’ bibliometric analysis involves the implementation of metric tools such as statistical analysis to assess literature. They refined the extracted data based upon specific parameters including impact factors (IFs), citation rates, and origin countries.

This method aids researchers in drawing conclusions about changes in research focus, topics, and study design over time. As an example, the research team highlighted their assessment of the 100 most-cited articles within a predetermined time period, a practice which they noted can uncover possible trends and key data on a topic.

This practice helped the team to highlight major gaps in awareness, with the goal being guiding future directions of research. In their research, the investigators added that no ethics committee approval was necessary given the study’s design.

From the top 5 dermatology journals, based on the Thomson Reuters Web of Science (WebOS) Journal Citation Reports 2021 as of May 2023, the investigators gathered original articles. These data were then refined by the team and stratified into the 100 most-cited articles, specifically within each 3-year interval from 2009 - 2023.

Over the course of refining the data, the investigators sought to identify trends across these years, utilizing a strategy of which would limit their findings to original articles within the WebOS dermatology category during the specified timeframe. The information they identified were evaluated through Microsoft Excel software along with a gender algorithm called the Gender Application Programming Interface.

This application was implemented to identify female authorship based upon country of origin as well as authors’ first names. The team set the significance level for the monotonic trend test at 5%.

Findings

Overall, the investigators collected a total of 14,187 articles, categorizing them based on citation frequency over the aforementioned 3-year periods. They reported on the gender of 418 primary authors as well as 447 senior authors of studies.

The research team found that female authorship was observed among 31% of senior authors, 43% of primary authors, and 37% of all types of authors combined. In their trend analysis, the team noted a decline in senior authorship among females over the prior 15 years (S = −4610, P = .068). They added that this trend had remained evident within the US (S = −1606, P = .052).

“Further tracking and research of trends of (female authorship) over the years is warranted for the further validation of (female authorship) patterns,” they wrote. “Accordingly, we hope that our article might open the way to additional research methodologies considering the effect of the choice of sample and subfield analysis on shifting a trend toward any increases and decreases identified.”

References

  1. Zlakishvili, Barak MDa; Horev, Amir MDb,c,*. Gender disparities in high-quality dermatology research over the past 15 years. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology 10(2):p e160, June 2024. | DOI: 10.1097/JW9.0000000000000160.
  2. Bendels MHK, Dietz MC, Brüggmann D, Oremek GM, Schöffel N, Groneberg DA. Gender disparities in high-quality dermatology research: a descriptive bibliometric study on scientific authorships. BMJ Open 2018;8:e020089.
  3. Baker C, Dwan D, Fields A, Mann JA, Pace NC, Hamann CR. Representation of women in pediatric dermatology leadership and research: trends over the past 45 years. Pediatr Dermatol 2020;37:844–8.
  4. Ziarati P, Baker C, Dwan D, Zug KA, Hamann CR. Representation of women among authors and presenters in contact dermatitis and at the European Society of Contact Dermatitis congresses: a look over 28 years. Contact Dermatitis 2020;83:537–8.
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