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Surg Neurol Int. 2017 May 26;8:93. doi: 10.4103/sni.sni_90_17. eCollection 2017.

Discrimination against female surgeons is still alive: Where are the full professorships and chairs of departments?

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Chief of Neurosurgical Spine/Education, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, New York, USA.



Although half of all medical students are now and women are increasingly filling surgical residency positions, few ascend the academic ladder to become chairman of their departments, much less full academic professors.


We queried PubMed to search for the number of women surgeons in different subspecialties, and asked how many were chairman or full academic professors?


Data coming out of largely general or cardiothoracic surgery departments cited no substantial gains for women surgeons over the years; there were few chairmanships or full professorships. In one study of 54 female cardiothoracic surgeons, 60% of academic appointments were at the instructor or assistant professor level; only 18% were full professors. In another study looking at 12-year data from major academic medical institutions in the US, women constituted only 9.2% of chairs, only 14.7% of full professors, and just 9.3% of deans. In a third study, out of 270 female general surgeons, there were only three who were chairman, and just 12.4% were tenured professors. In Great Britain/Ireland, of 315 neurosurgeons (25 females), all 16 full professors were males. Two medical/surgical series speculated it would take until 2096 or 2136 for females to attain 50% of full professorships. The American Association of Neurological Surgery (U.S. 2017; personal communication) showed that of 287 Board-certified female neurosurgeons, there is just one female surgeons chairman.


Few female physicians/surgeons were chairs of departments or full professors at their academic institutions. Do women in medicine/surgery really need to wait until 2136 to achieve equality?


Chairman; departments; full new professors; minorities; unequal treatment; women surgeons

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