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Status of Women in Academic Anesthesiology

A 10-Year Update

Bissing, Martha A., BS, MPH*; Lange, Elizabeth M. S., MD*; Davila, Wilmer F., MD*; Wong, Cynthia A., MD; McCarthy, Robert J., PharmD*; Stock, M. Christine, MD*; Toledo, Paloma, MD, MPH*,‡

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000003691
Healthcare Economics, Policy, and Organization: Original Clinical Research Report

BACKGROUND: Gender inequity is still prevalent in today’s medical workforce. Previous studies have investigated the status of women in academic anesthesiology. The objective of this study is to provide a current update on the status of women in academic anesthesiology. We hypothesized that while the number of women in academic anesthesiology has increased in the past 10 years, major gender disparities continue to persist, most notably in leadership roles.

METHODS: Medical student, resident, and faculty data were obtained from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The number of women in anesthesiology at the resident and faculty level, the distribution of faculty academic rank, and the number of women chairpersons were compared across the period from 2006 to 2016. The gender distribution of major anesthesiology journal editorial boards and data on anesthesiology research grant awards, among other leadership roles, were collected from websites and compared to data from 2005 and 2006.

RESULTS: The number (%) of women anesthesiology residents/faculty has increased from 1570 (32%)/1783 (29%) in 2006 to 2145 (35%)/2945 (36%) in 2016 (P = .004 and P < .001, respectively). Since 2006, the odds that an anesthesiology faculty member was a woman increased approximately 2% per year, with an estimated odds ratio of 1.02 (95% confidence interval, 1.014–1.025; P < .001). In 2015, the percentage of women anesthesiology full professors (7.4%) was less than men full professors (17.3%) (difference, −9.9%; 95% confidence interval of the difference, −8.5% to −11.3%; P < .001). The percentage of women anesthesiology department chairs remained unchanged from 2006 to 2016 (12.7% vs 14.0%) (P = .75). To date, neither Anesthesia & Analgesia nor Anesthesiology has had a woman Editor-in-Chief. The percentage of major research grant awards to women has increased significantly from 21.1% in 1997–2007 to 31.5% in 2007–2016 (P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS: Gender disparities continue to exist at the upper levels of leadership in academic anesthesiology, most importantly in the roles of full professor, department chair, and journal editors. However, there are some indications that women may be on the path to leadership parity, most notably, the growth of women in anesthesiology residencies and faculty positions and increases in major research grants awarded to women.

From the *Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa

Center for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.

Accepted for publication June 19, 2018.

Published ahead of print 19 June 2018.

Funding: P.T. was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Princeton, NJ), Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development program (award 69779). M.A.B. and W.F.D. were supported by the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website.

Institutional review board: Northwestern University Institutional Review Board Office, Rubloff Hall, 7th Floor, 750 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail:

The content of the article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This was not an observational clinical study.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Paloma Toledo, MD, MPH, Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 251 E Huron St F5-704, Chicago, IL 60611. Address e-mail to

© 2019 International Anesthesia Research Society
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