From the Journals

Sex disparities seen in surgical professorships



Female surgeons were less likely than were male surgeons to be full professors in 2014, according to an analysis that adjusted for a number of “factors known to influence academic rank independently of sex.”

The overall odds ratio for female surgeons to be full professors, compared with men, was 0.76, after adjustment for such factors as age, years since residency, subspecialty, total publications, and clinical trial participation. “This methodological rigor is a central and unique strength of this analysis and bolsters the validity of the study findings,” wrote Daniel M. Blumenthal, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and his associates. The report was published in Annals of Surgery (2018 Jan 12. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002662).

Differences favoring men were seen in eight of the nine subspecialties included in the study, with vascular surgery being the exception (adjusted odds ratio, 1.63). Of the other eight, however, only in general surgery (adjusted odds ratio, 0.68) was the difference significant, the investigators said.

Adjusted odds ratios for full professorship in 2014, women vs. men

Another factor included in the analysis was the research ranking of the medical schools. There was no significant sex disparity for faculty members at medical schools ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report (adjusted odds ratio, 1.03), but schools outside the top 20 had an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 0.65 for women, compared with men. Geographically speaking, the largest disadvantage for female surgeons among the four main census divisions was in the Northeast (AOR, 0.52), with the West generating relative equality (AOR, 1.02) and the South (AOR, 0.83) and the Midwest (AOR, 0.87) in between, they reported.

Dr. Blumenthal and his associates used a cross-sectional database maintained by Doximity, an online networking company. The analysis included data for 11,549 surgeons with faculty appointments in 2014: 3,080 were full professors (7% were women), 2,931 were associate professors (13.8% were women), and 5,538 were assistant professors (19.4% were women).

Dr. Blumenthal reported research funding from a fellowship at Harvard. The investigators declared no conflict of interests.

SOURCE: Blumenthal DM et al. Ann Surg. 2018 Jan 12. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002662.

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