Objective To evaluate the balance between the sexes of published ophthalmic material at the editorial, reviewer, and author levels.
Design Cross-sectional study of 3 journals, American Journal of Ophthalmology, Archives of Ophthalmology, and Ophthalmology, for 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009. The data were compared with ophthalmologist-in-training and physician profile in major contributing states from North America and Europe during the same period.
Results Of the 3 major ophthalmology journals, none had a female editor-in-chief. For all journals, the proportion of editorial board members who were women increased from 3.3% in 1969 to 18.8% in 2009. For all journals and all years, women composed a higher proportion of first authors (29.2% in 2009) compared with senior authors (22.9% in 2009), reviewers (18.9% in 2009), or assistant editors (12.5% in 2009). There was an abrupt shift toward women after 1989 in first authorship in Ophthalmology (1969, 4.6%; 1979, 5.4%; 1989, 12.3%; and 1999, 20.2%), Archives of Ophthalmology (1969, 6.6%; 1979, 5.1%; 1989, 15.6%; and 1999, 28.6%), and American Journal of Ophthalmology (1969, 5.6%; 1979, 4.2%; 1989, 9.2%; and 1999, 23.9%). There was also an abrupt increase in female senior authorship for American Journal of Ophthalmology after 1989 (1979, 8.5%; 1989, 8.1%; and 1999, 18.3%). The increase in female first authorship during the 5 decades was parallel with the increase in US female physicians.
Conclusions Women ophthalmologists are authoring publications in increasing numbers that match their prevalence in the academic and overall workforce. However, all editors are men. This discrepancy relates to the relatively younger generation of female ophthalmologists or selection bias, a subject that requires further investigation.