Gender disparities in neurosurgery have persisted even as the number of female medical students in many countries has risen. An understanding of the current gender distribution of neurosurgeons around the world and the possible factors contributing to country-specific gender disparities is an important step in improving gender equity in the field.
The authors performed a systematic review of studies pertaining to women in neurosurgery. Papers listed in PubMed in the English language were collected. A modified grounded theory approach was utilized to systematically identify and code factors noted to contribute to gender disparities in neurosurgery. Statistical analysis was performed with IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows.
The authors identified 39 studies describing the density of women neurosurgeons in particular regions, 18 of which documented the proportion of practicing female neurosurgeons in a single or in multiple countries. The majority of these studies were published within the last 5 years. Eight factors contributing to gender disparity were identified, including conference representation, the proverbial glass ceiling, lifestyle, mentoring, discrimination, interest, salary, and physical burden.
The topic of women in neurosurgery has received considerable global scholarly attention. The worldwide proportion of female neurosurgeons varies by region and country. Mentorship was the most frequently cited factor contributing to noted gender differences, with lifestyle, the glass ceiling, and discrimination also frequently mentioned. Future studies are necessary to assess the influence of country-specific sociopolitical factors that push and pull individuals of all backgrounds to enter this field.