National Email Communication Platforms May Indicate or Contribute to Gender Disparities: Preliminary Analysis of an Academic Medicine Listserv

Mayra Perez, Kara Mckinney, Jennifer Hettema, Orrin Myers, Xin Shore, Valerie Romero-Leggott, Cheryl Schmitt, Gina Cardinali, Stephanie Cockrell, Deborah Helitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Gender disparities are well documented in the academic medicine literature and have been shown to impact representation, rank, and leadership opportunities for women. Social media platforms, including electronic mailing lists (listservs), may contribute to disparities by differentially highlighting or promoting individuals' work in academic and public health settings. Because of this, they provide a record by which to assess the presence of gender disparities; therefore, they become tools to identify gender differences in the frequency or pattern of representation. This study examines the representation of women in academic medicine electronic communications by analyzing weekly email listserv announcements of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Materials and Methods: A mixed methods approach was used to analyze listserv communications during two time periods, 2012-2014 and 2018-2019. Each email contained multiple announcements. Individual achievement messages were selected, categorized by gender, and coded with one of three action categories: departures, appointments, and other mentions. Additionally, each notice was coded by professional setting (media, professional organizations, medical school/research, health care systems, public health, and government). Results: We analyzed a total of 5701 announcements in the AAMC communication listserv. Men represented 73.2% (N = 4171) and women 26.8% (N = 1530) of the total announcements. During 2012-2014, 24.0% of announcements were about women, while in the 2018-2019 sample, 35.7% of announcements were about women (p < 0.001). Overall, women were underrepresented in departure-focused messages compared to messages with an appointment or other focus in the sample. The prevalence of women in announcements from the 2012-2014 and 2018-2019 samples also varied based on setting. Conclusions: Findings support the presence of gender disparities in these sets of listserv communications. While social media overall is not considered to be a source of complete information, this study analyzed the same listserv communication by the same organization over the entire period, thereby providing a window into the frequency and type of representation of women's professional activity in academic medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1581-1586
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • academic medicine
  • gender
  • social media platforms
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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