Arthritis Rheumatol. 2021 Jan;73(1):168-172. doi: 10.1002/art.41492. Epub 2020 Nov 8.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the potential association between physician gender and academic advancement among US rheumatologists.
METHODS: We performed a nationwide, cross-sectional study of all rheumatologists practicing in the US in 2014 using a comprehensive database of all licensed physicians. Among academic rheumatologists, we estimated gender differences in faculty rank, adjusting for differences in physician age, years since residency graduation, publications, National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, registered clinical trials, and appointment at a top 20 medical school using a multivariate logistic regression model. We also estimated gender differences in leadership positions (i.e., division director and fellowship program director).
RESULTS: Among 6,125 total practicing rheumatologists, 941 (15%) had academic faculty appointments in 2014. Women academic rheumatologists (41.4%) were younger and had completed residency more recently than men. Women had fewer total publications, publications on which they were the first or last author, and NIH grants. In fully adjusted analyses, women were less likely to be full or associate professors than men, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 0.78 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.62-0.99]). Women in rheumatology had similar odds as men of being a fellowship program director or division director (adjusted OR 0.99 [95% CI 0.69-1.43] and adjusted OR 0.96 [95% CI 0.66-1.41], respectively).
CONCLUSION: Among academic rheumatologists, women are less likely than men to be full or associate professors but have similar odds of being fellowship program directors or division directors, when adjusting for several factors known to influence faculty promotion. These differences suggest barriers to academic promotion despite representation in leadership positions within rheumatology divisions.