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One and a half million medical papers reveal a link between author gender and attention to gender and sex analysis

Abstract

Gender and sex analysis is increasingly recognized as a key factor in creating better medical research and health care1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Using a sample of more than 1.5 million medical research papers, our study examined the potential link between women’s participation in medical science and attention to gender-related and sex-related factors in disease-specific research. Adjusting for variations across countries, disease topics and medical research areas, we compared the participation of women authors in studies that do and do not involve gender and sex analysis. Overall, our results show a robust positive correlation between women’s authorship and the likelihood of a study including gender and sex analysis. These findings corroborate discussions of how women’s participation in medical science links to research outcomes, and show the mutual benefits of promoting both the scientific advancement of women and the integration of gender and sex analysis into medical research.

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Fig. 1: The global share of women as first authors, last authors and full-group participation in disease-specific medical research.
Fig. 2: Plot of estimated marginal means.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S. Oertelt-Prigione and the Institute of Gender in Medicine, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, for data acquisition from the GenderMed database. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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The research was designed by M.W.N. The database was constructed by J.P.A. and M.W.N. The data were analysed by M.W.N., J.W.S. and J.P.A. All authors contributed to writing the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mathias Wullum Nielsen.

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Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures 1–5, Supplementary Tables 1–14, Supplementary References

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Nielsen, M.W., Andersen, J.P., Schiebinger, L. et al. One and a half million medical papers reveal a link between author gender and attention to gender and sex analysis. Nat Hum Behav 1, 791–796 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0235-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0235-x

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