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Why Are There Less Female First Authors in Academic Radiology Than Before?

Female authorship in academic radiology has been on the decline since 2000, says a new study. A group of researchers led by Erin E. O’Connor, MD, assistant professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, evaluated authorship gender trends from 1970 to 2016 and found that the rate of female first authorship has been steadily decreasing over the last 46 some years.

According to the study published in Academic Radiology, the researchers read articles published in Radiology and the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) in 1970, 1990, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2010, and from 2013-2016. In Academic Radiology articles, the researchers identified over 1,800 female first authors and 1,400 female corresponding authors. Similarly, in AJR, they identified more than 1,800 female first authors, over 1,800 female corresponding authors, and 1,600 female last authors.

Although the number of female last authors continues to rise, between 2000 and 2016, there have been fewer female first authors. The researchers speculate that this could be due to “a similar plateau currently hitting female radiology faculty promotion,” according to Radiology Business. They also suggest that this growing contrast might be associated with the decrease in women matriculating into radiology residencies.

Ultimately, the reasons for why there are fewer female first authors in academic radiology is systemic. “… academic productivity can profoundly influence decisions regarding faculty recruitment, hiring, and promotion,” write the researchers. “In addition, recent evidence suggests that salary determinations for medical school faculty can be influenced by publication productivity.” 

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