Although there has been a considerable increase in the representation of women in medicine, a gender gap still exists with regard to leadership positions. This gender discrepancy has been identified in the field of anesthesiology, in terms of first and senior authorship, as well as in general composition of editorial boards in Anesthesiology and Anesthesia & Analgesia. The goal of this study is to examine the current representation of women in editorial boards of anesthesia journals with respect to the hierarchy of different editorial positions and to assess whether there has been improvement toward equity in recent years.
A comprehensive search was performed for anesthesiology journals indexed in the Scimago Journal and Country Rank in May 2020. The editorial boards of the top 20 journals by impact factor were analyzed. Editorial board members were categorized based on their title. Gender was assigned using images or pronouns on research databases or hospital-affiliated websites. The percentage of women within each category was calculated. When available, the year the editors obtained their medical degree was collected. A binomial proportion test was used to analyze the distribution of women overall and among editorial roles, compared to the proportion of women anesthesiologists (26%). A Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to compare time since medical degree between genders. Additionally, women representation in anesthesiology editorial boards in 2020 was compared to 2010.
A total of 19 journals were included in this study, as 1 journal did not disclose editorial board membership. Overall, women occupied 18% of all editorial board positions. All editors-in-chief and assistant/associate/deputy editors-in-chief were men. Women consisted of 17.1% of executive/section/senior editors, 17.9% of editors, and 20.6% of associate/assistant editors. There were significantly fewer women editorial board members than the percentage of women anesthesiologists (18% vs 26%; P < .001). Editorial boards from 2010 were available for 14 journals, and of these journals, women comprised 12% of editorial board members in 2010 compared to 19% in 2020 (P = .001).
These findings suggest that in anesthesiology journals, women are underrepresented at all editorial levels, especially at higher levels. As editorial boards have a significant impact on which articles are published by a journal and thereby significant influence on the specialty as a whole, the lack of gender equity in editorial boards should be addressed.