Gender diversity in United States neurosurgery training programs

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  • 1 University of Vermont College of Medicine;
  • 3 Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and
  • 5 Division of Neurosurgery, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont;
  • 4 Department of Neurosurgery, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan; and
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery continues to be one of the medical specialties with the lowest representation of females in both the resident and faculty workforce. Currently, there are limited available data on the gender distribution of faculty and residents in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurosurgery training programs. This information is critical to accurately measure the results of any effort to improve both the recruitment and retention of women in neurosurgery. The objective of the current study was to define the current gender distribution of faculty and residents in ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs.

METHODS

Data publicly available through institutional and supplemental websites for neurosurgical faculty and residents at ACGME-accredited programs were analyzed for the 2017–2018 academic year. Data collected for faculty included gender, age, year of residency graduation, academic rank, h-index, American Board of Neurological Surgery certification status, and leadership positions. Resident data included gender and postgraduate year of training.

RESULTS

Among the 109 ACGME-accredited neurosurgical residency programs included in this study, there were 1350 residents in training, of whom 18.2% were female and 81.8% were male. There are 1320 faculty, of whom 8.7% were female and 91.3% were male. Fifty-eight programs (53.2%) had both female faculty and residents, 35 programs (32.1%) had female residents and no female faculty, 4 programs (3.7%) had female faculty and no female residents, and 6 programs (5.5%) lacked both female residents and faculty. Six programs (5.5%) had incomplete data. Female faculty were younger, had lower h-indices, and were less likely to be board certified and attain positions of higher academic rank and leadership.

CONCLUSIONS

This study serves to provide a current snapshot of gender diversity in ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs. While there are still fewer female neurosurgeons achieving positions of higher academic rank and serving in leadership positions than male neurosurgeons, the authors’ findings suggest that this is likely due to the small number of women in the neurosurgical field who are the farthest away from residency graduation and serves to highlight the significant progress that has been made toward achieving greater gender diversity in the neurosurgical workforce.

ABBREVIATIONS ABNS = American Board of Neurological Surgery; ACGME = Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Katherine E. Callahan: Robert Larner MD College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT. katherine.callahan@med.uvm.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 29, 2021; DOI: 10.3171/2020.7.JNS192647.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

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