The proportion of male and female editors in women's health journals: A critical analysis and review of the sex gap

Madison Grinnell, Shauna Higgins, Kelli Yost, Olivia Ochuba, Marissa Lobl, Pearl Grimes, Ashley Wysong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Historically, women have been underrepresented in leadership positions in medicine. The reasons for this are multifactorial. In recent years, women's representation in medicine has improved. However, inequities in the proportion of men and women in medical leadership remain, especially with regard to editorial journal boards. Objective: This study aimed to explore current trends of women in leadership positions on journal editorial boards. Methods: A comprehensive search for women's health journals was performed in collaboration with university librarians in February 2019 using EMBASE, Scopus, SciFinder, and MEDLINE records for journals with relevance to women's health. Each journal was e-mailed to verify the accuracy of the journal editorial boards listed on their respective webpages. Five categories, as well as the totals for each journal, were analyzed for the proportion of women versus men: editor-in-chief, associate editor, deputy editor, and section editor, and other. Results: Women comprised the minority of positions on women's health editorial boards. Of the total 1440 board members included, 602 members (42%) were women and 838 members (58%) were men. Women occupied 54 of 132 editor-in-chief positions (41%), 257 of 596 associate editor positions (43%), 13 of 42 deputy editor positions (30%), 46 of 120 section editor positions (38%), and 232 of 549 other editor positions (42%). Conclusion: Although the sex gap in leadership in medicine is improving, it is still present. Our findings suggest that women are underrepresented as editors at most levels in women's health journals centered on topics such as reproductive health, obstetrics and gynecology, perinatology, gynecological oncology, and breastfeeding. With sponsorship/mentorship for women, flexible scheduling, and considerate thought in leadership appointment, this sex gap will continue to improve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Academic medicine
  • Editorial board
  • Faculty satisfaction
  • Gender inequity
  • Leadership
  • Promotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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