Purpose: Because those selected for leadership in academic medicine often have a record of academic productivity, publication disparities may help explain the gender imbalance in leadership roles. The authors aimed to compare the publication records, academic promotions, and leadership appointments of women and men physicians longitudinally throughout academic careers.
Method: In 2007, the authors conducted a retrospective, longitudinal cohort study of all 25 women physicians then employed at Mayo Clinic with ≥20 years of service at Mayo and of 50 male physician controls, matched 2:1 by appointment date and career category, to women. The authors recorded peer-reviewed publications, timing of promotion, and leadership appointments throughout their careers.
Results: Women published fewer articles throughout their careers than men (mean [standard deviation] 29.5 [28.8] versus 75.8 [60.3], P = .001). However, after 27 years, women produced a mean of 1.57 more publications annually than men (P < .001). Thirty-three men (66%) achieved an academic rank of professor compared with seven women (28%) (P = .01). Throughout their careers, women held fewer leadership roles than men (P < .001). Nearly half (no. = 11; 44%) of women attained no leadership position, compared with 15 men (30%).
Conclusions: Women's publication rates increase and actually exceed those of men in the latter stages of careers, yet women hold fewer leadership positions than men overall, suggesting that academic productivity assessed midcareer may not be an appropriate measure of leadership skills and that factors other than publication record and academic rank should be considered in selecting leaders.