Although a gender gap still exists on the
radiology research front, radiology is one of the few medical specialties in
which men and women have a similar likelihood of being a full professor,
according to recent Radiology research.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston compared full
professorship rates between male and female radiologists using a unique
physician database provided by Doximity, an online networking service for U.S.
physicians. The study was published online in Radiology and will
appear in the April 2017 print issue.
cultivated information on all U.S. academic radiologists, both members and
non-members of Doximity,” said lead author Neena Kapoor, MD, a diagnostic
radiologist in the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“With information on over 5,000 academic radiologists, we believe this
database offers a new and more comprehensive way to look at gender differences
in promotion in academic radiology.”
The study comprised
5,089 academic radiologists representing approximately 11.3 percent of all
U.S. radiologists in 2014. Of that number, 3,638, or 71.5 percent, were men.
The average age for male and female radiologists was 52 and 49 years,
Overall, 16.5 percent of the women
radiologists and 26.1 percent of the men were full professors, Dr. Kapoor
said. After taking into account several factors known to influence academic
promotion (age, years since residency, research productivity and medical
school ranking among them), researchers determined that among radiologists
with U.S. medical school faculty appointments in 2014, men and women were
similarly likely to be full professors.
to reduce inequality based on gender are warranted, according to Dr. Kapoor,
the findings show that radiology remains one of the few specialties in which
the likelihood of being full professor is equal among men and women.
“Overall, I think the study represents good news,” Dr.
Kapoor said. “Once factors known to affect research and clinical productivity
are taken into account, female radiologists are just as likely to be full
professors as male radiologists. This is unlike almost any other medical
specialty, including psychiatry, pathology, and obstetrics and
Closing the Research Gap
Nevertheless, researchers determined that a gender gap persists on
the research side of the profession. When they analyzed factors including
National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, scientific publications,
clinical trial investigation and clinical volume measured according to 2013
Medicare reimbursement, they found evidence that female radiologists may lack
equal opportunities. Women had fewer total and first or last author
publications than men, were less likely than men to have NIH funding and
generated less annual Medicare revenue.
“We need to work
on getting male and female radiologists on an equal playing field — not just
in terms of having equal promotional criteria,” Dr. Kapoor said.
While the study did not assess reasons for the gap in research
opportunities, Dr. Kapoor pointed to several possibilities.
Women may be more likely to choose clinical or educational tracks
which have different promotional criteria and research requirements,” she
said. “Also, more women work part-time and take time off for maternity leave.
Differences in childcare and household responsibilities may make it harder
for female physicians to work full-time and publish at the same rate as men.”
The study shows that the rate of female first and senior
authorship in radiology has increased over time, which means that women are
already starting to close that gap, according to Dr. Kapoor.
“In order to make further improvements, radiology departments should
continue to offer flexible work environments and work hours, which could
encourage more women to work full-time,” she said. “Finally, the value of a
good research mentor cannot be understated. Women should be encouraged to
enter research tracks early in their careers and to find supportive
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