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Sex Differences in Faculty Rank Among Academic Surgeons in the United States in 2014

Blumenthal, Daniel M., MD, MBA*; Bergmark, Regan W., MD; Raol, Nikhila, MD, MPH‡,§; Bohnen, Jordan D., MD, MBA; Eloy, Jean Anderson, MD||; Gray, Stacey T., MD

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002662

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate sex differences in full professorship among a comprehensive, contemporary cohort of US academic surgeons.

Summary of Background Data: Previous work demonstrates that women are less likely than men to be full professors in academic medicine, and in certain surgical subspecialties. Whether sex differences in academic rank exist across all surgical fields, and after adjustment for confounders, is not known.

Methods: A comprehensive list of surgeons with faculty appointments at US medical schools in 2014 was obtained from Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) faculty roster and linked to a comprehensive physician database from Doximity, an online physician networking website, which contained the following data for all physicians: sex, age, years since residency, publication number (total and first/last author), clinical trials participation, National Institutes of Health grants, and surgical subspecialty. A 20% sample of 2013 Medicare payments for care was added to this dataset. Multivariable regression models were used to estimate sex differences in full professorship, adjusting for these variables and medical school-specific fixed effects.

Results: Among 11,549 surgeon faculty at US medical schools in 2014, 1692 (14.7%) were women. Women comprised 19.4% of assistant professors (1072/5538), 13.8% of associate professors (404/2931), and 7.0% of full professors (216/3080). After multivariable analysis, women were less likely to be full professors than men (adjusted odds ratio: 0.76, 95% confidence interval: 0.6–0.9).

Conclusion: Among surgical faculty at US medical schools in 2014, women were less likely than men to be full professors after adjustment for multiple factors known to impact faculty rank.

*Division of Cardiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

§Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

||Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Neurological Surgery, and Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery at the Neurological Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ.

Reprints: Daniel M. Blumenthal, MD, MBA, Division of Cardiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Yawkey Building, Suite 5B, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114. E-mail:

Both Daniel M. Blumenthal and Regan W. Bergmark contributed equally.

Dr. Blumenthal reports research funding from the John S. LaDue Memorial Fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

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