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  • Gender Disparities in Leadership Positions and Publication Rates

    By Lynda Seminara
    Selected and Reviewed By: Neil M. Bressler, MD, and Deputy Editors

    Journal Highlights

    JAMA Ophthalmology, May 2020

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    Women make up 25.3% of ophthal­mologists in the United States and comprise 28% of academic ophthal­mology faculty members. To better understand gender inequality in ophthalmology, Camacci et al. looked at sex composition of the boards of ophthalmic journals and societies; they also compared publication produc­tivity. Their analysis showed that the sex composition of the boards mirrors that of the ophthalmology profession, but high-level positions such as society president and editor-in-chief are heavily dominated by men.

    For this cross-sectional study, the authors used the SCImago Journal Rank indicator to determine the 20 highest-ranked ophthalmology jour­nals. Highly influential ophthalmology societies were identified via a faculty survey. The 2018 board members of each journal and society were identi­fied from the relevant official websites, and the sex of each individual was noted. The Scopus database was used to obtain each member’s h-index and m-quotient. (The h-index is designed to take both authors’ productivity and the impact of their papers into account. The m-quotient accounts for different durations of academic careers and is calculated by dividing the h-index by the number of years since an author’s first publication.)

    Among the 1,077 members of ophthalmic journal and society boards, 797 (74%) were men. Of the 24 journal editors-in-chief, 23 (95.8%) were male. Thirteen (86.7%) of the 15 presidents of professional societies were men. The median h-index was significantly higher for men (journals: 34 vs. 28, p < .001; societies: 27 vs. 17, p = .006). The median number of publications was 157 for men and 109 for women (p < .001). Likewise, more society board members were male (109 vs. 58, p = .001), and median citations favored men (4,027 vs. 2,871, p < .001). The m-quotients for board members were comparable (journal boards: 1.2 [male] vs. 1.1 [female], p = .54; society boards: 1.0 [male] vs. 0.9 [female], p = .32).

    In summary, the sex distribution of society and journal boards is consistent with that of U.S. ophthalmologists. Career length seems to have no bearing on publication productivity. If journals and societies want their leadership to fully reflect the demographics of oph­thalmologists, it may help to consider early-career personnel for new open­ings, which may give women greater opportunity to fill these positions, the authors said. (Also see related commen­tary by Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, in the same issue.)

    The original article can be found here.