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Gender Differences in Academic Productivity and Leadership Appointments of Physicians Throughout Academic Careers

Reed, Darcy A. MD, MPH; Enders, Felicity PhD; Lindor, Rachel; McClees, Martha; Lindor, Keith D. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181ff9ff2
Academic Productivity

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.

Dr. Reed is assistant professor of medicine, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Enders is assistant professor of biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

Ms. Lindor is a medical student, Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota.

Ms. McClees is administrative secretary, Academic Appointments and Promotions Committee, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Lindor is professor of medicine and dean, Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Reed, Division of Primary Care, Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905; telephone: (507) 284-6391; fax: (507) 266-0038; e-mail:

First published online November 18, 2010

© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges