Purpose – The aim of the paper is to explore and test gender differences in the authorship of Iranian journal articles. Design/methodology/approach – A list of articles published by Iranian authors in ISI journals in 2003 was obtained from the Web of Science. The names of authors were searched in a specific database as well as the web to find their first names and hence their gender. The articles were then broken down by gender and subject category. International collaborations of the authors were also investigated. Findings – The productivity of female authors at the individual level as measured by article per author share was lower than male authors. In total, females accounted for 6 per cent and males for 94 per cent of the articles published in 2003. A chi‐square test showed that female contribution was significantly lower than expected. Originality/value – The study is the first to investigate gender participation in scientific productivity in Iran and most likely in a Muslim country. The article highlights the need for qualitative studies on the gender aspect of scientific productivity in Muslim countries.