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International Women’s Day 2023: can medical publishing do more to #EmbraceEquity?


  • Gender inequity persists in medical research and medical publishing.
  • As we mark International Women’s Day 2023, we sum up recent posts from The Publication Plan on studies, guidelines, and initiatives from groups striving for change.

In 2023, International Women’s Day calls on us all to #EmbraceEquity. This theme challenges us to think about the key differences between equity and equality and to consider why “equal opportunities are no longer enough”. In other words, why we should aim for equal outcomes, rather than equal resources. At The Publication Plan, we’ve reported on a number of studies, guidelines, and initiatives that aim to shine a light on gender bias and pave the way to gender equity in medical publishing.

As we’ve reported, gender gaps currently persist at each level of medical publishing and in fact worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Research participation and reporting: Historically, medical research focused on white males, leaving other groups underrepresented. In an interview with The Publication Plan, Shirin Heidari (lead author of the Sex and Gender Equity in Research [SAGER] guidelines) outlined why she believes that sex and gender differences are still not given enough consideration.
  • Authorship and citations: An analysis of over 5,500 papers found that those authored by women were less likely to be cited, particularly if both the first and final authors were women.
  • Peer review and editorial boards: An analysis of the British Medical Journal publishing group found that fewer than 1 in 3 peer reviewers were women, potentially influenced by greater ‘invisible workloads’ shouldered by women in academia and lower visibility among the pool of senior researchers considered for peer review roles. The same study reported that women accounted for only 1 in 5 Editors in Chief.

So, how do we move towards a more equitable landscape? A number of groups have proposed ideas and recommendations:

International Women’s Day calls for us all to take action to drive gender parity – we look forward to seeing how collaborative approaches in medical publishing help us to reach this goal.


In recent years, have you experienced progress towards gender equity in medical publishing?

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