The number of women in the medical field has increased in Africa over the last few decades, yet the underrepresentation of women within neurosurgery has been a recurrent theme. Of all surgical disciplines, neurosurgery is among the least equitable, and the rate of increase in female surgeons lags behind other surgical disciplines such as general surgery. This historical review provides an overview of the history of women in neurosurgery and their current status on the African continent. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first article to provide such an overview.
Claire Karekezi, Nqobile Thango, Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu-Ibrahim, Hajar Bechri, Espérance Maman You Broalet, Mouna Bougrine, Jebet Beverly Cheserem, Maguette Mbaye, Zarina Ali Shabhay, Nabila Tighilt, Souad Bakhti, and Najia El Abbadi
Alia Hdeib, Theresa Elder, Daria Krivosheya, Disep I. Ojukwu, Olindi Wijesekera, Dana Defta, Sharona Ben-Haim, and Deborah L. Benzil
In 2020, the Women in Neurosurgery (WINS) organization, a joint section of the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, celebrated 30 years since its inception. In this paper, the authors explore the history of WINS from its beginnings through its evolution over the past three decades. The achievements of the group are highlighted, as well as the broader achievements of the women in the neurosurgical community over this time period.
Suguru Nagamitsu, Natsue Kaneko, Toshikazu Nagatsuna, Hiroaki Yasuda, Manabu Urakawa, Masami Fujii, and Tetsuo Yamashita
Idiopathic dissecting cerebral aneurysms (IDCAs) are male dominant but are extremely rare in children. Many IDCAs in children are located in the posterior cerebral artery and the supraclinoid internal cervical artery. No cases of IDCA of the distal anterior cerebral artery (ACA) have been reported.
A previously healthy 7-month-old boy experienced afebrile seizures and presented at the authors’ hospital 1 week after the first seizure. He was not feeling well but had no neurological deficits. The authors diagnosed a ruptured aneurysm of the right distal ACA based on imaging results. He underwent emergency craniotomy to prevent re-rupture of the aneurysm. Using intraoperative indocyanine green videoangiography, the authors confirmed peripheral blood flow and then performed aneurysmectomy. Pathological examination of the aneurysm revealed a thickened intima, fragmentation of the internal elastic lamina, and a hematoma in the aneurysmal wall. The authors ultimately diagnosed IDCA because no cause was indicated, including a history of trauma. The boy recovered after surgery and was subsequently discharged with no complications.
The authors reported, for the first time, IDCA of the distal ACA in an infant. The trapping technique is often used for giant fusiform aneurysms in infants. Indocyanine green videoangiography is useful for evaluating peripheral blood flow during trapping in this case.
Birra Taha, Praneeth Sadda, Graham Winston, Eseosa Odigie, Cristina Londono, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Susan C. Pannullo, and Caitlin Hoffman
A meta-analysis was performed to understand disparities in the representation of female authorship within the neurosurgical literature and implications for career advancement of women in neurosurgery.
Author names for articles published in 16 of the top neurosurgical journals from 2002 to 2019 were obtained from MEDLINE. The gender of each author was determined using automated prediction methods. Publication trends were compared over time and across subdisciplines. Female authorship was also compared to the proportionate composition of women in the field over time.
The metadata obtained from 16 major neurosurgical journals yielded 66,546 research articles. Gender was successfully determined for 96% (127,809/133,578) of first and senior authors, while the remainder (3.9%) were unable to be determined through prediction methods. Across all years, 13.3% (8826) of articles had female first authorship and 9.1% (6073) had female senior authorship. Female first authorship increased significantly over time from 5.8% in 2002 to 17.2% in 2019 (p < 0.001). Female senior authorship also increased significantly over time, from 5.5% in 2002 to 12.0% in 2019 (p < 0.001). The journals with the highest proportions of female first authors and senior authors were the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (33.5%) and the Asian Journal of Neurosurgery (23.8%), respectively. Operative Neurosurgery had the lowest fraction of female first (12.4%) and senior (4.7%) authors. There was a significant difference between the year-by-year proportion of female neurosurgical trainees and the year-by-year proportion of female neurosurgical first (p < 0.001) and senior (p < 0.001) authors. Articles were also more likely to have a female first author if the senior author of the article was female (OR 2.69, CI 2.52–2.86; p < 0.001). From 1944 to 2019, the Journal of Neurosurgery showed a steady increase in female first and senior authorship, with a plateau beginning in the 1990s.
Large meta-analysis techniques have the potential to effectively leverage large amounts of bibliometric data to quantify the representation of female authorship in the neurosurgical literature. The proportion of female authors in major neurosurgical journals has steadily increased. However, the rate of increase in female senior authorship has lagged behind the rate of increase in first authorship, indicating a disparity in academic advancement in women in neurosurgery.
Kimberly Wang, Archis R. Bhandarkar, Megan M. J. Bauman, Cecile Riviere-Cazaux, Juliana Rotter, Kristen M. Scheitler, Jaclyn J. Renfrow, and Michelle J. Clarke
Metric tracking of grant funding over time for academic neurosurgeons sorted by gender informs the current climate of career development internationally for women in neurosurgery.
Multivariate linear trend analysis of grant funding awarded to neurosurgeons in the NIH and World Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) was performed. Traveling fellowships for international neurosurgery residents sponsored by the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) were also analyzed.
Within the US, funding awarded to female neurosurgeons has remained static from 2009 to 2019 after adjusting for inflation and overall trends in NIH funding (β = −$0.3 million per year, p = 0.16). Internationally, female neurosurgeons represented 21.7% (n = 5) of project leads for World RePORTER grants. Traveling fellowships are also an important building block for young international female neurosurgeons, of which 7.4% (n = 2) of AANS international traveling fellowships and 19.4% (n = 7) of AANS/CNS pediatrics international traveling fellowships are women.
Over the past decade, funding has increased in neurosurgery without a concordant increase in funding awarded to women. Recognition of this trend is essential to focus efforts on research and career development opportunities for women in neurosurgery. Worldwide, female neurosurgeons head one-fifth of the funded project leads and constitute a minority of international traveling fellowships awarded by organized neurosurgery.
Gail L. Rosseau, Shelly D. Timmons, Karin M. Muraszko, Katharine J. Drummond, Mary Murphy, Nelci Zanon, and Farideh Nejat
Samantha J. Sadler, Ho Kei Yuki Ip, Eliana Kim, Claire Karekezi, and Faith C. Robertson
As progress is gradually being made toward increased representation and retention of women in neurosurgery, the neurosurgical community should elevate effective efforts that may be driving positive change. Here, the authors describe explicit efforts by the neurosurgery community to empower and expand representation of women in neurosurgery, among which they identified four themes: 1) formal mentorship channels; 2) scholarships and awards; 3) training and exposure opportunities; and 4) infrastructural approaches. Ultimately, a data-driven approach is needed to improve representation and empowerment of women in neurosurgery and to best direct the neurosurgical community’s efforts across the globe.
Bryan Zheng, Hael Abdulrazeq, Owen P. Leary, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Adetokunbo A. Oyelese, Jared S. Fridley, and Joaquin Q. Camara-Quintana
Lumbar spine osteomyelitis can be refractory to conventional techniques for identifying a causal organism. In cases in which a protracted antibiotic regimen is indicated, obtaining a conclusive yield on biopsy is particularly important. Although lateral transpsoas approaches and intraoperative computed tomography (CT) navigation are well documented as techniques used for spinal arthrodesis, their utility in vertebral biopsy has yet to be reported in any capacity.
In a 44-year-old male patient with a history of Nocardia bacteremia, CT-guided biopsy failed to confirm the microbiology of an L4–5 discitis osteomyelitis. The patient underwent a minimally invasive open biopsy in which a lateral approach with intraoperative guidance was used to access the infected disc space retroperitoneally. A thin film was obtained and cultured Nocardia nova, and the patient was treated accordingly with a long course of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
The combination of a lateral transpsoas approach with intraoperative navigation is a valuable technique for obtaining positive yield in cases of discitis osteomyelitis of the lumbar spine refractory to CT-guided biopsy.
Jasmine A. Thum, Diana Chang, Nalini Tata, and Linda M. Liau
In 2008, a Women in Neurosurgery Committee white paper called for increased women applicants and decreased women’s attrition in neurosurgery. However, contributing factors (work-life balance, lack of female leadership, workplace gender inequality) have not been well characterized; therefore, specific actions cannot be implemented to improve these professional hurdles. This study provides an update on the experiences of neurosurgeons in 2020 with these historical challenges.
An anonymous online survey was sent to all Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited US neurosurgical programs, examining demographics and experiences with mentorship, family life, fertility, and workplace conduct.
A total of 115 respondents (64 men, 51 women; age range 25–67 years) had trained at 49 different US residencies. Mentorship rates were very high among men and women in medical school and residency. However, women were significantly more likely than men to have a female mentor in residency. During residency, 33% of women versus 44% of men had children, and significantly fewer women interested in having a child were able to do so in residency, compared to men. Significantly more women than men had a child only during a nonclinical year (56.3% vs 19.0%, respectively). Thirty-nine percent of women and 25% of men reported difficulty conceiving. The major difficulty for men was stress, whereas women reported the physical challenges of pregnancy itself (workplace teratogens, morning sickness, etc.). Failed birth rates peaked during residency (0.33) versus those before (0.00) and after residency (0.25).
Women (80%) experience microaggressions in the workplace significantly more than men (36%; p < 0.001). Ninety-five percent of macro-/microaggressions toward female neurosurgeons were about their gender, compared to 9% of those toward men (p < 0.001). The most common overall perpetrators were senior male residents and attendings, followed by male patients (against women) and female nurses or midlevel providers (against men).
Accurate depictions of neurosurgery experiences and open discussions of the potential impacts of gender may allow for 1) decreased attrition due to more accurate expectations and 2) improved characterization of gender differences in neurosurgery so the profession can work to address gender inequality.
Jean-Paul Bryant, Diana I. Nwokoye, MaKayla F. Cox, and Nnenna S. Mbabuike
While diversity in organized medicine has undoubtedly improved, a disparity remains in the racial and gender makeup of its constituents. This disparity is not distributed equally among all specialties of practice. The surgical subspecialties exemplify this phenomenon by having large gaps between the number of women and racial/ethnic minorities compared to their majority counterparts. Pertaining to neurosurgery in the US, this gap is substantial, with women reaching minority status only within the last 2 years. Among international women in neurosurgery, Black women are even further underrepresented despite efforts in recent years to close the gender gap. The reason for this disparity is likely multifactorial, as Black women demonstrate a unique intersectionality as a minority in regard to both race and gender. In this study, the authors provide historical context for the current state of diversity in neurosurgery and the global strides made by Black women within the field. The authors report recurrent themes in the experiences of Black female neurosurgery attendings and residents as revealed through personal interviews. Furthermore, they examine factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation of Black women in neurosurgery.