Background: It is commonly believed that women surgeons are less likely to be funded and to publish than their male counterparts. According to the American Board of Surgery, currently 13.5% of board-certified surgeons are women.
Objective: We compared first authorship and reported funding of original articles in the surgical literature by gender.
Methods: We conducted a structured review of all original articles during 2006 from 4 major surgical journals (Annals of Surgery, Archives of Surgery, Surgery, and Journal of the American College of Surgeons). For each article, the gender and academic degree of the first author was determined as well as the study design, type and country of the institution, and source of funding, if any. χ2 tests were used to compare the rates of reported funding, academic degrees, and type of research by gender of author. A multivariate logistic regression model was used to determine the association between gender, degree, country, institution, and study design with funding.
Results: Of the 664 original research reports evaluated, 118 (17.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 15.0–20.9]) were first-authored by women and 522 (78.6% [95% CI, 75.3–81.6]) by men (in 24 [3.6%], the gender of the first author was unknown). Two hundred fifty-eight (38.9% [95% CI, 35.2–42.6]) of the articles reported funding. Funding rates among men and women were not quite significantly different (37.0% vs. 45.8%, difference 8.8%; 95% CI, −1%–19%; P = 0.08). The percentage of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) among men and women first authors was similar (13.4% vs. 13.6%, P = 0.92). Female first authors were less likely to have a medical degree than male first authors (93 of 118 [78.8%] vs. 486 of 519 [93.6%], P < 0.0010). On multivariate analysis, non-RCTs were less likely to be funded than RCTs (odds ratio, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.14–0.40).
Conclusions: The percentage of original surgical articles first authored by women is greater than the percentage of female surgeons. Funding rates of original articles were similar among men and women.