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Gender differences in authorship prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic in research submissions to Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2017–2021)
  1. Christa Orchard1,2,3,
  2. Peter M Smith1,2,4,
  3. Hans Kromhout5
  1. 1 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Mental Health & Addictions Research Program, ICES, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 School of Population Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5 Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Christa Orchard, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada; christa.orchard{at}


Objective To explore whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted productivity of female academics in the field of occupational and environmental health, by examining trends in male and female authorship of submissions during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Methods Administrative data on submissions between January 2017 and November 2021 were obtained through databases held at BMJ journals. Author gender was identified using an existing algorithm based on matching names to social media accounts. The number and proportion of female and male primary (first) and senior (last) authors were examined for each quarter, and the average change in share of monthly submissions from male authors in the months since the pandemic compared with corresponding months prior to the pandemic were identified using regression models estimating least squares means.

Results Among 2286 (64.7%) and 2335 (66.1%) manuscripts for which first and last author gender were identified, respectively, 49.3% of prepandemic submissions were from male first authors, increasing to 55.4% in the first year of the pandemic (difference of 6.1%, 95% CI 1.3% to 10.7%), before dropping to 46.6% from April 2021 onwards. Quarterly counts identified a large increase in submissions from male authors during the first year after the onset of the pandemic, and a smaller increase from female authors. The proportion of male last authors did not change significantly during the pandemic.

Conclusions These findings suggest that there has been an increase in male productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic within the field of occupational and environmental health research that is present to a lesser extent among women.

  • COVID-19
  • women

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  • Contributors We have all contributed to the conception, analysis and writing of this piece. CO completed the data analysis and wrote the manuscript. PMS and HK provided guidance on the design, analysis and writing of the manuscript. PMS acted as guarantor for this work and therefore accepts full responsibility for the finished work and the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.

  • 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 None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.