Sex Differences in Academic Rank and Publication Rate at Top-Ranked US Neurology Programs

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Women are underrepresented in academic neurology, and the reasons for the underrepresentation are unclear.


To explore potential sex differences in top-ranked academic neurology programs by comparing the number of men and women at each academic faculty rank and how many articles each group has published.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Twenty-nine top-ranked neurology programs were identified by combining the top 20 programs listed on either the 2016 or 2017 Doximity Residency Navigator tool with the top 20 programs listed in the US News and World Report ranking of Best Graduate Schools. An internet search of the departmental websites was performed between December 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016. For each faculty member on a program site, the following biographical information was obtained: first name, last name, academic institution, sex, academic faculty rank, educational leadership (clerkship, fellowship, or residency director/assistant director), and year of medical school graduation.

Main Outcomes and Measures

To compare the distribution of men vs women and the number of publications for men vs women at each academic faculty rank. Secondary analyses included Scopus h-index, book authorship, educational leadership (clerkship, residency, or fellowship director/assistant director), and clinical activity as inferred through Medicare claims data in men vs women after controlling for years since medical school graduation.


Of 1712 academic neurologists in our sample, 528 (30.8%) were women and 1184 (69.2%) were men (P < .001). Men outnumbered women at all academic faculty ranks, and the difference increased with advancing rank (instructor/lecturer, 59.4% vs 40.5%; assistant professor, 56.7% vs 43.3%; associate professor, 69.8% vs 30.2%; and professor, 86.2% vs 13.8%). After controlling for clustering and years since medical school graduation, men were twice as likely as women to be full professors (odds ratio [OR], 2.06; 95% CI, 1.40-3.01), whereas men and women had the same odds of being associate professors (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.82-1.32). Men had more publications than women at all academic ranks, but the disparity in publication number decreased with advancing rank (men vs women after adjusting for years since medical school graduation: assistant professor [exponentiated coefficient, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.57-2.12]; associate professor [1.53; 95% CI, 1.22-1.91]; and full professor [1.36; 95% CI, 1.09-1.69]). Men had a higher log Scopus h-index than women after adjustment (linear coefficient, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.34-0.55). There was no significant association between sex and clinical activity (linear coefficient, 0.02; 95% CI, −0.10 to 0.13), educational leadership (OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 0.85-1.40), or book authorship (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 0.82-9.29) after adjusting for years since medical school graduation.

Conclusions and Relevance

Men outnumber women at all faculty ranks in top-ranked academic neurology programs, and the discrepancy increases with advancing rank. Men have more publications than women at all ranks, but the gap narrows with advancing rank. Other measures of academic productivity do not appear to differ between men and women.

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