In this episode, we consider the sobering results of a recent study in JAMA Network about invited commentaries. When a journal publishes a paper of particular interest, journal editors will reach out to an expert in the field and ask them to write an editorial about the article and its significance.
The study, by colleagues at Harvard and Elsevier, shows that women researchers are about 20 percent less likely than men to author these invited commentaries – even when they have the same level of experience as their male peers. Incredibly, this figure rises to 40 percent for more senior female scientists.
Join host Anita de Waard, VP of Research Collaborations at Elsevier, as she explores the study with two of the authors: Emma Thomas, a doctoral candidate in biostatistics at Harvard, and Dr. Bamini Jayabalasingham, Senior Product Manager for Elsevier’s Analytical Services. Here, they discuss some of the factors contributing to their findings and the implications for the larger research landscape.
Episode 3: Don’t blame it on the pipeline: Gender disparity in invited commentaries and senior researchers
Articles mentioned in the podcast
- Original study referenced in this episode: Gender Disparities in Invited Commentary Authorship in 2459 Medical Journals
- Referenced Holman et al article: The gender gap in science: How long until women are equally represented
- I thought patriarchy in science was fading. Then I saw it in the data
- Women scientists author fewer invited commentaries in medical journals than men with comparable credentials
Emma Thomas is a doctoral student in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Her doctoral work has centered on leveraging modern machine learning and statistical techniques to extract interpretable insights from large observational datasets.
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She has developed and implemented innovative statistical methods to study the effects of air pollution on hospitalization in Medicare beneficiaries and has investigated gender disparities in authorship of prestigious invited articles in medical journals. Her applied research interests are broad and include environmental health, gender disparities in academia, the health of current and former prisoners, and infectious diseases including HIV, neonatal sepsis and influenza.
Bamini Jayabalasingham, PhD
Dr. Bamini Jayabalasingham is a PhD-trained researcher with experience conducting evaluations to support evidence-based policy and program changes at the federal and municipal level. She has managed teams to coordinate program evaluations, policy implementation, strategic planning and data analyses
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to assess underlying factors (e.g., socioeconomic, infectious disease, funding policies) contributing to health and economic outcomes.
In her current role as Senior Product Manager with Elsevier’s Analytical Services, she oversees development of analytical products using bibliometric data to support the strategic planning needs of clients in academia and government. Projects she has worked on include Cancer Research Current Trends and Future Directions and Elsevier’s 2017 report Gender in the Global Research Landscape.
Prior to joining Elsevier, she was Health Science Administrator at the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and Science Policy Analyst at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Anita de Waard, PhD
As VP of Research Collaborations at Elsevier, Dr. Anita de Waard works with academic and industry partners on projects pertaining to progressing modes and frameworks for scholarly communication.
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Since 1997, she has worked on bridging the gap between science publishing and computational and information technologies, collaborating with groups in Europe and the US. Her efforts have included working on a semantic model for research papers, co-founding the interdisciplinary member organization FORCE11: The Future of Research Communications and E-Scholarship and supporting the development of standards and models for research data management in cross-stakeholder alliances such as the Research Data Alliance, the National Data Service and the AGU Enabling Fair Data project. She is currently involved in a number of efforts to increase access of scholarly content to a larger audience, including co-chairing a challenge to automate the generation of Lay Summaries, Program Chair of the Force2020 conference with its theme of ‘Local Actions for Global Impact’ and collaborating on projects related to Trust in Research together with the Harvard Data Science Initiative.
Anita has a degree in low-temperature physics from Leiden University, and worked in Moscow before joining Elsevier as a physics publisher in 1988.
Upcoming report: The researcher journey through a gender lens
Gender disparity and bias in research, as explored in this podcast episode, negatively affect the breadth and impact of research and the opportunities for researchers to advance in their careers. To understand this impact and overcome barriers, the global research community must closely examine the critical issues using an evidence-based approach.
Elsevier has an ongoing commitment to promoting gender diversity and advancing gender equity in global research. In March, we will publish The researcher journey through a gender lens: A global examination of research participation, career progression and perceptions. This is our third report on gender and research.
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