Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Sport and exercise medicine/physiotherapy publishing has a gender/sex equity problem: we need action now!
  1. Sallie M Cowan1,2,3,
  2. Joanne L Kemp1,2,
  3. Clare L Ardern1,2,4,
  4. Jane S Thornton5,
  5. Ebonie Kendra Rio1,2,6,
  6. Andrea M Bruder1,2,
  7. Andrea Britt Mosler1,2,
  8. Brooke Patterson1,2,
  9. Melissa Haberfield1,2,
  10. Eliza A Roughead1,2,
  11. Harvi Hart1,2,7,
  12. Laura To1,2,
  13. Sydney Neufeld8,
  14. Nada Mazahir8,
  15. Kay M Crossley1,2
  1. 1La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Australian IOC Research Centre, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Clifton Hill Physiotherapy, Clifton Hill, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Family Practice, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Physiotherapy Department, Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7Department of Physical Therapy, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  8. 8Return to Health and Performance Lab, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sallie M Cowan, La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre, School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport., La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia; sallie.cowan{at}latrobe.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives We aimed to determine (1) the proportion of women authors overall, in first (lead) and last (senior) author positions, (2) the proportion of women research participants and (3) the association between women in first and/or last author positions and the proportion of women research participants in original research articles and editorials/opinion pieces in four sport and exercise medicine/physiotherapy journals.

Methods The journals evaluated were the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy in Sport and International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.

We reviewed all original research articles and editorials/opinion pieces published in 2008, 2009, 2018 and 2019. For each, we aimed to determine the gender/sex of all authors (through gender pronouns, Google Scholar, ResearchGate, institutional profiles, personal websites, photographs and/or social media), and the gender/sex of study participants reported as ‘female’ or ‘male’ or ‘women’ or ‘men’ or ‘girls’ or ‘boys’.

Results We included 952 original studies and 219 editorials/opinion pieces. There were 5146 authors of original studies and 706 authors of editorials/opinion pieces. Compared with 2008/2009, the proportion of women as first and last authors was 3.6% (33.0% compared with 29.4%) and 4.8% (33.2% compared with 27.4%) higher respectively in 2018/2019. On average, the proportion of women participants in original studies remained largely unchanged over the 10-year period, only 10% of all participants were women in studies.

Conclusion Women are strikingly under-represented in first and last author positions, as are women participants in sports and exercise medicine/physiotherapy journals.

  • female
  • sports medicine

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

View Full Text

Footnotes

  • Twitter @PhysioHill, @JoanneLKemp, @clare_ardern, @janesthornton, @tendonpain, @AndreaBruder, @AndreaBMosler, @Knee_Howells, @melhabphysio, @kaymcrossley

  • Contributors SMC, JLK, KMC and CLA designed the study. SMC, EKR, JLK and ABM manually screening and extracted original research and editorials from the four sport and exercise medicine/physiotherapy journals. SMC, JST, EKR, AMB, BP, MH, EAR, HH, LT, SN and NM extracted data from included articles. SMC and KMC analysed data. SMC drafted the manuscript and all coauthors provided feedback and revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. All authors gave final approval of the version to be published. All authors agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work. All authors agreed to ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work have been appropriately investigated and resolved. SMC is the author responsible for the overall content of the manuscript as guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests CLA has served as editor-in-chief for JOSPT (Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy) since 2018. JST has served as editor for BJSM (British Journal of Sports Medicine) since 2021. EKR has served as a senior associate editor (BJSM) since 2017. ABM has served as an associate/deputy editor at (BJSM) since 2017, associate editor at JSAMS since 2020, associate editor at IJSPT since 2020. BP has served as an associate editor at BJSM since 2021.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.