US Academic Neurology Programs: Sex Differences Identified in Rank/Publications

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doctors looking cell phone
Researchers explored potential sex-based differences in ranking at academic neurology programs.

Female neurologists are underrepresented in academia, with men outnumbering women at all faculty ranks and the discrepancy increasing with advancing rank. Moreover, in medical schools and across academia, men have more publications than women, according to the results of a recent cross-sectional study of 1712 academic neurologists published in JAMA Neurology.

Investigators examined potential gender differences in top-ranked neurology programs by comparing the number of women and men at each academic faculty rank and the number of articles published by each group. An Internet search of departmental websites of 29 top-ranked neurology programs was conducted between December 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016.

Among 1712 academic neurologists included in the study, 30.8% (528 of 1712) were women and 69.2% (1184 of 1712) were men, reflecting a statistically significant difference
(P <.001). Men outnumbered women at all academic faculty ranks, and that discrepancy increased with advancing rank: instructor/lecturer: 59.4% men, 40.5% women;
assistant professor: 56.7% men, 43.3% women; associate professor: 69.8% men,
30.2% women; and professor: 86.2% men, 13.8% women.

After controlling for such factors as clustering at the facility level and years since medical school graduation, men were shown to be 2-times more likely than women to be full professors (odds ratio [OR], 2.06; 95% CI, 1.40-3.01), but both genders had the same odds of being associate professors (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.82-1.32).

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Additionally, men had significantly more publications than women at all academic ranks
(P <.001), but the difference between genders in number of publications decreased with advancing rank: men vs women (after adjusting for years since medical school graduation): assistant professor (exponentiated coefficient, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.57-2.12); associate professor (1.53; 95% CI, 1.22-1.91); and full professor (1.36; 95% CI, 1.09-1.69). After adjusting for years since medical school graduation, no significant association was demonstrated between gender and clinical activity, educational leadership, or book authorship.

The investigators concluded that future studies are needed to explore the reasons for the underrepresentation of female neurologists in academia. Prospective methods can be used to investigate the association between number of publications and other aspects of productivity on promotions among men vs women in the field of academic neurology.


McDermott M, Gelb DJ, Wilson K, et al. Sex differences in academic rank and publication rate at top-ranked US neurology programs [published online April 2, 2018]. JAMA Neurol. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.0275