Gender differences in authorship prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic in research submissions to Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2017-2021)

Publication type
Journal article
Orchard C, Smith PM, Kromhout H
Date published
2022 Feb 01
Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Open Access?

OBJECTIVE: To explore whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted productivity of female academics in the field of occupational and environmental health, by examining trends in male and female authorship of submissions during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. METHODS: Administrative data on submissions between January 2017 and November 2021 were obtained through databases held at BMJ journals. Author gender was identified using an existing algorithm based on matching names to social media accounts. The number and proportion of female and male primary (first) and senior (last) authors were examined for each quarter, and the average change in share of monthly submissions from male authors in the months since the pandemic compared with corresponding months prior to the pandemic were identified using regression models estimating least squares means. RESULTS: Among 2286 (64.7%) and 2335 (66.1%) manuscripts for which first and last author gender were identified, respectively, 49.3% of prepandemic submissions were from male first authors, increasing to 55.4% in the first year of the pandemic (difference of 6.1%, 95% CI 1.3% to 10.7%), before dropping to 46.6% from April 2021 onwards. Quarterly counts identified a large increase in submissions from male authors during the first year after the onset of the pandemic, and a smaller increase from female authors. The proportion of male last authors did not change significantly during the pandemic. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that there has been an increase in male productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic within the field of occupational and environmental health research that is present to a lesser extent among women