WASHINGTON – Gastroenterology is still a majority male specialty, although women are entering the field at higher and higher rates. Female first authorship tripled from 1995 to 2010 (from 11% to 32%) and female senior authorship tripled from 2000 to 2010 (from 7% to 24%), but gains have not been equal in all areas and have not continued in all areas.
Eileen J. Benz, MD, of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, described in a video interview at the annual Digestive Disease Week® a study she and her colleagues conducted to analyze published research in the journal Gastroenterology for the changing prevalence of female authorship over 4 decades.
The researchers reviewed all research published in the January and July issues of Gastroenterology during 1971-2010 (865 abstracts); animal trials were excluded. The sex of the first author and the last author (considered the senior author) of each paper was recorded, as was the type of study (basic science, clinical trials, or epidemiologic research). The increase in female senior authorship lagged behind the increase in first authorship, which likely reflects the promotion of female gastroenterologists over time into senior academic positions.
Also noted was that basic science and epidemiology research have the highest number of female authors overall, and these areas seem to continue to add female authors, whereas the number of female authors in clinical trials research seems to have stagnated since 1996. Dr. Benz hypothesizes that both bench science and epidemiology have research time built in, but that for a physician who may have other demands on her time, clinical trials research is an add-on for which there may not be protected time.