Gender equality in academic research on epilepsy—a study on scientific authorships



The study aims to elucidate the state of gender equality in epilepsy research, analyzing the representation of female authorships from 2008 to 2016.


Gendermetrics aided in analyzing 106,282 authorships from 22,180 epilepsy-related original research articles. The key methodology was the combined analysis of the relative frequency and the odds ratio of female authorships. The Prestige Index measures the distribution of prestigious authorships between the two genders.


The following were held by women: 39.6% of all authorships and 44.1% of the first, 41.0% of the co-, and 29.0% of the last authorships. Female authors have an odds ratio of 1.25 (95% CI 1.21–1.29) for first, 1.17 (CI 1.14–1.20) for co-, and 0.57 (CI 0.55–0.59) for last authorships. The female authorship ratios showed substantial growth in recent years, with an annual growth rate of 1.7% overall, with 2.4% for first, 1.4% for co-, and 1.9% for last authorships. Women publish fewer articles compared to men (43.8% female authors hold 39.6% of the authorships). Women are also less likely to secure prestigious authorships in articles with many authors that attract the highest citation rates. Multi-author articles with male key authors are cited slightly more frequently than articles with female key authors. Distinct differences at the country level were revealed. The prognosis for the next decade forecasts significantly increasing female odds for first authorships and only slightly higher female odds for last authorships. A female authorship ratio of 49.2% is predicted for the year 2026.


The integration of women in the scientific field of epilepsy is advanced. However, a dichotomy is present: Although the current system promotes early career steps, there is an apparent lack of female research leaders. This structural imbalance is expected to grow in the next decade due to the consistently high increase of female early career researchers.