Status of Women in Academic Anesthesiology: A 10-Year Update

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Gender inequity is still prevalent in today’s medical workforce. Previous studies have investigated the status of women in academic anesthesiology. The objective of this study is to provide a current update on the status of women in academic anesthesiology. We hypothesized that while the number of women in academic anesthesiology has increased in the past 10 years, major gender disparities continue to persist, most notably in leadership roles.

METHODS:

Medical student, resident, and faculty data were obtained from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The number of women in anesthesiology at the resident and faculty level, the distribution of faculty academic rank, and the number of women chairpersons were compared across the period from 2006 to 2016. The gender distribution of major anesthesiology journal editorial boards and data on anesthesiology research grant awards, among other leadership roles, were collected from websites and compared to data from 2005 and 2006.

RESULTS:

The number (%) of women anesthesiology residents/faculty has increased from 1570 (32%)/1783 (29%) in 2006 to 2145 (35%)/2945 (36%) in 2016 (P = .004 and P < .001, respectively). Since 2006, the odds that an anesthesiology faculty member was a woman increased approximately 2% per year, with an estimated odds ratio of 1.02 (95% confidence interval, 1.014–1.025; P < .001). In 2015, the percentage of women anesthesiology full professors (7.4%) was less than men full professors (17.3%) (difference, −9.9%; 95% confidence interval of the difference, −8.5% to −11.3%; P < .001). The percentage of women anesthesiology department chairs remained unchanged from 2006 to 2016 (12.7% vs 14.0%) (P = .75). To date, neither Anesthesia & Analgesia nor Anesthesiology has had a woman Editor-in-Chief. The percentage of major research grant awards to women has increased significantly from 21.1% in 1997–2007 to 31.5% in 2007–2016 (P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS:

Gender disparities continue to exist at the upper levels of leadership in academic anesthesiology, most importantly in the roles of full professor, department chair, and journal editors. However, there are some indications that women may be on the path to leadership parity, most notably, the growth of women in anesthesiology residencies and faculty positions and increases in major research grants awarded to women.

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