The gender bias among influential biomedical researchers

The European Journal of Clinical Investigation recently published a study listing over 400 highly influential biomedical researchers. The list was generated using metrics such as the h-index and the total number of published papers from the years 1996 to 2011.

It is of course debatable how much these article level metrics are true readouts for impact or influence. However, one striking finding remains despite all potential analytical shortcomings: manually going through the list of 408 researchers reveals that only 26 of them carry female first names. This is just about 6% of influential biomedical scientists in the last 15 years.

We recently gave some courses at Harvard University, which by the way is the most mentioned institution in the list of influential researchers (47 mentions). One of the courses on leadership and communication skills was directed to PhD students in the biological and biomedical sciences program. Strikingly, at least three quarters of the participants were female.

So, young female scientists are interested in leadership. Lets hope this ratio somewhat translates to the list of influential biomedical scientists 30 years down the line.

A version of this article was first published in German here.

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