Bibliometric analyses show gender bias against women in scientific publications and citations. We hypothesized that a metric of an individual senior author’s inclusivity of women as first authors in critical care publications would predict gender inequality.
Using PubMed and Web of Science, we conducted a bibliometric analysis of original research publications in critical care from 2008 to 2018 in 11 specialty and general journals. Gender for first and senior authors was assigned by a gender determination application, and manually if needed. For all senior authors we defined the novel Female First Author Index (FFA-index) = #Female first authors in publications by an individual senior author/Total # publications by that senior author. We produced a novel interactive web-based application using the R package Shiny to increase potential utilization of the FFA-index.
Of 7370 publications, 30.4% had female first authors and 15.5% had female senior authors. After adjustment for impact factor, journal, year of publication, number of authors, country, and gender determination accuracy, female senior authorship was associated with a 1.9-fold increase in female first authorship [OR = 1.85 (95% CI 1.62, 2.11); p < 0.001] compared with male senior authorship. The mean (SD) FFA-index for all individual senior authors was 30.5 (42.9); with a significant difference in FFA-index between male and female senior authors (27.6 versus 42.5, respectively; p < 0.001). The interactive web-based application (FFA-index App) produces the same FFA-index output as our study results.
Female representation at prominent authorship positions in critical care publications is still far from achieving gender parity. By creating an authorship index score, we propose a frame of reference for the advancement of female first authorship.