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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020 Feb 11. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-19-00408. [Epub ahead of print]

Gender-related Differences in Research Productivity, Position, and Advancement Among Academic Orthopaedic Faculty Within the United States.

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From the Tulane University School of Medicine (Mr. Hoof, Ms. Sommi, Ms. Meyer, and Ms. Bird), and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine (Ms. Brown and Dr. Mulcahey), New Orleans, LA.



The number of female residents in orthopaedic surgery is rising; however, orthopaedics currently has the lowest percentage of women among all medical specialties. The Hirsch index (h-index) is a metric used to determine research productivity, an important factor for academic promotion in the field of orthopaedics. The purpose of this study was to compare research productivity (using the h-index) among male and female orthopaedic surgeons at academic residency programs within the United States.


The websites for all Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited orthopaedic surgery residency programs in the United States were evaluated and the following information was collected: geographic region of the institution, sex, specialty, academic rank, and institutional leadership positions of faculty members. The h-index for each faculty member was collected from the Web of Science Database.


H-indices of 4,323 academic orthopaedic surgeons from 160 residency programs in the United States were collected. In total, 1,587 faculty members were assistant professors (220, 13.9% women), 839 were associate professors (91, 10.8% women), 902 were professors (50, 5.5% women), and academic rank was not specified for 991 (74, 7.5% women). One hundred forty-three faculty members held the position of department chair (2, 1.4% women) and 701 were division chiefs (58, 8.3% women). In geographic regions with a greater proportion of female orthopaedic faculty members, women had greater research productivity. Among Department Chairs, associate professors, and professors there was no difference in research productivity between male and female academic orthopaedic surgeons. By contrast, among assistant professors, there was a significant difference in research productivity.


A higher proportion of female faculty in an orthopaedic department was positively associated with increased female research productivity. Female faculty at the highest ranks and leadership positions are as academically productive as their male counterparts. Despite similar research productivity, female orthopaedic surgeons are not nearly as well represented as their male counterparts in orthopaedics in general and in leadership positions within the field. In addition, a significantly smaller research productivity among female assistant professors disappears at the higher ranks in comparison to their male counterparts. This indicates a critical gap in factors that influence research productivity according to sex at the most junior faculty rank.


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