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Panminerva Medica 2022 Feb 18

DOI: 10.23736/S0031-0808.22.04684-5


language: English

Unequal opportunities in Italian cardiovascular research: focus on gender

Gianluca MASSARO 1 , Andrea MATTEUCCI 1, Michela BONANNI 1, Alberto TESTA 2, Giacomo FRATI 3, 4, Elena CAVARRETTA 3, 5, Mariangela PERUZZI 5, 6 , Giuseppe SANGIORGI 7, Giuseppe BIONDI-ZOCCAI 3, 5

1 Department of Cardiovascular Disease, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 2 Sapienza School for Advanced Studies, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 3 Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Latina, Italy; 4 IRCCS NEUROMED, Pozzilli, Isernia, Italy; 5 Mediterranea Cardiocentro, Napoli, Italy; 6 Department of Clinical, Internal Anesthesiology and Cardiovascular Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; 7 Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Rome, Italy

BACKGROUND: Despite unanimous calls for more equitable access and support to female researchers, there are persistent barriers to women's career progression and professional fulfillment. These discriminative hurdles undermine female gender in science and have detrimental effects on research activities and female professionals and patients. There is no data on women's outlook in cardiovascular research in Italy, which limits appropriate remedial actions. We aimed at providing an updated perspective on top Italian cardiovascular researchers, focusing on women vs. men comparisons.
METHODS: Top Italian cardiovascular researchers were retrieved from a dedicated and validated Scopus query. Researchers' sex was assigned according to the given name with a consensus process. Several metrics were compared, including global rank, total cites, total cites adjusted by academic age, h index, and selfcitation percentage. Bivariate and propensity score-adjusted analyses were used for inferential purposes.
RESULTS: Our analysis shows the existence of a gender gap: the number of scientific articles published by Italian male researchers in their careers is significantly higher than their female counterparts (p=0.002). For men, the year of first publication is earlier (p=0.001); they also published more articles as a single author, or single+first author or single+first+last author. Men's papers cited at least once were more than those of women (p=<0.001), and the total number of citations was significantly higher for men (p=0.002). These results remain significant both in the analysis excluding self-citations as well as in the analysis including self-citations. The single-year analysis (2019) confirms the significance of the career analysis, adding that men have a higher rank based on composite score (p=0.041, or p=0.005 if including self-citation). Finally, men have a higher percentage of self-citation in 2019 than women (p=0.008).
CONCLUSIONS: The gender disparity is still a limiting factor in Italian cardiovascular research. Despite career advancement, women continue to be underrepresented. Men retain more leadership positions in academia and maintain the edge for scientific work productions. More efforts are needed to ensure equity between men and women.

KEY WORDS: Gender gap; Bibliometrics, Sex differences; Italian researchers

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