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      COVID-19 medical papers have fewer women first authors than expected

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          Abstract

          The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in school closures and distancing requirements that have disrupted both work and family life for many. Concerns exist that these disruptions caused by the pandemic may not have influenced men and women researchers equally. Many medical journals have published papers on the pandemic, which were generated by researchers facing the challenges of these disruptions. Here we report the results of an analysis that compared the gender distribution of authors on 1893 medical papers related to the pandemic with that on papers published in the same journals in 2019, for papers with first authors and last authors from the United States. Using mixed-effects regression models, we estimated that the proportion of COVID-19 papers with a woman first author was 19% lower than that for papers published in the same journals in 2019, while our comparisons for last authors and overall proportion of women authors per paper were inconclusive. A closer examination suggested that women’s representation as first authors of COVID-19 research was particularly low for papers published in March and April 2020. Our findings are consistent with the idea that the research productivity of women, especially early-career women, has been affected more than the research productivity of men.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period

          It is urgent to understand the future of severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission. We used estimates of seasonality, immunity, and cross-immunity for betacoronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 from time series data from the USA to inform a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. We projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave. Absent other interventions, a key metric for the success of social distancing is whether critical care capacities are exceeded. To avoid this, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022. Additional interventions, including expanded critical care capacity and an effective therapeutic, would improve the success of intermittent distancing and hasten the acquisition of herd immunity. Longitudinal serological studies are urgently needed to determine the extent and duration of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.
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              The "gender gap" in authorship of academic medical literature--a 35-year perspective.

              Participation of women in the medical profession has increased during the past four decades, but issues of concern persist regarding disparities between the sexes in academic medicine. Advancement is largely driven by peer-reviewed original research, so we sought to determine the representation of female physician-investigators among the authors of selected publications during the past 35 years. Original articles from six prominent medical journals--the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med), the Annals of Surgery (Ann Surg), Obstetrics & Gynecology (Obstet Gynecol), and the Journal of Pediatrics (J Pediatr)--were categorized according to the sex of both the first and the senior (last listed) author. Sex was also determined for the authors of guest editorials in NEJM and JAMA. Data were collected for the years 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2004. The analysis was restricted to authors from U.S. institutions holding M.D. degrees. The sex was determined for 98.5 percent of the 7249 U.S. authors of original research with M.D. degrees. The proportion of first authors who were women increased from 5.9 percent in 1970 to 29.3 percent in 2004 (P<0.001), and the proportion of senior authors who were women increased from 3.7 percent to 19.3 percent (P<0.001) during the same period. The proportion of authors who were women increased most sharply in Obstet Gynecol (from 6.7 percent of first authors and 6.8 percent of senior authors in 1970 to 40.7 percent of first authors and 28.0 percent of senior authors in 2004) and J Pediatr (from 15.0 percent of first authors and 4.3 percent of senior authors in 1970 to 38.9 percent of first authors and 38.0 percent of senior authors in 2004) and remained low in Ann Surg (from 2.3 percent of first authors and 0.7 percent of senior authors in 1970 to 16.7 percent of first authors and 6.7 percent of senior authors in 2004). In 2004, 11.4 percent of the authors of guest editorials in NEJM and 18.8 percent of the authors of guest editorials in JAMA were women. Over the past four decades, the proportion of women among both first and senior physician-authors of original research in the United States has significantly increased. Nevertheless, women still compose a minority of the authors of original research and guest editorials in the journals studied. Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Reviewing Editor
                Role: Senior Editor
                Journal
                eLife
                Elife
                eLife
                eLife
                eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
                2050-084X
                15 June 2020
                2020
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University AarhusDenmark
                [2 ]Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen CopenhagenDenmark
                [3 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University PhiladelphiaUnited States
                [4 ]Department of Emergency Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University PhiladelphiaUnited States
                [5 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan Ann ArborUnited States
                [6 ]Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan Ann ArborUnited States
                eLife United Kingdom
                eLife United Kingdom
                eLife United Kingdom
                Article
                58807
                10.7554/eLife.58807
                7304994
                32538780
                © 2020, Andersen et al

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

                Product
                Funding
                No external funding was received for this work.
                Categories
                Feature Article
                Human Biology and Medicine
                Meta-Research
                Custom metadata
                Lockdowns in the United States caused by the COVID-19 pandemic appear related to a decrease in the number of women publishing research papers, especially as first authors.
                5

                Life sciences

                meta-research, gender, bibliometrics, bias, publishing, covid-19, human

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