A quantitative analysis on the recruitment of female students in US neurosurgery programs

The authors of this article evaluated residents enrolled in US neurosurgery programs in 2021 to characterize which medical schools most successfully recruited female students into the field over a 7-year period. Detailed findings of this study are described by Dr. James Feghali and colleagues from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in "Recruitment of women in neurosurgery: a 7-year quantitative analysis," published today in the Journal of Neurosurgery (https://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2022.4.JNS22410).

Background. There is a gender disparity in neurosurgery residency, with women being underrepresented.

Present study. The authors of this study aimed to characterize which medical school characteristics predicted successful recruitment of female students into neurosurgery, thereby providing insights that may potentially help improve gender imbalances in the field. Their findings included three main observations: 1) Female recruitment is correlated with clinical faculty size, but not independently with faculty gender. 2) There is geographic variation in the rate of female recruitment, with medical schools in western states having the most room to gain in recruitment. 3) There is a preresidency gender gap in academic productivity that widened with progression through residency, with reasons remaining unclear.

To determine the medical schools that were most successful in recruiting women, the authors evaluated 1572 current residents in US neurosurgery programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education as of February 2021, representing match cohorts from 2014 to 2020. They extracted US medical school characteristics and ranked the schools based on the percentages of female graduates entering neurosurgery. They then studied yearly trends of the percentage of women constituting incoming neurosurgery resident cohorts, as well as associations between female recruitment percentage and medical school characteristics. On multivariable analysis, the total affiliated neurosurgery clinical faculty, allopathic versus osteopathic schools, and top 10 U.S. News & World Report ranking were associated with a higher average percentage of female graduates entering neurosurgery.

Through their quantitative approach, the authors delineated the current state of female recruitment and representation in neurosurgery residency. In their paper, they state that their study may "help improve female representation in neurosurgery residency training moving forward, a need that remains crucially unmet, while providing a data curation and analysis model that can be used to address disparities in other surgical subspecialties."

Journal reference:

Feghali, J., et al. (2022) Recruitment of women in neurosurgery: a 7-year quantitative analysis. Journal of Neurosurgery. doi.org/10.3171/2022.4.JNS22410.


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