Activities, productivity, and compensation of men and women in the life sciences

Acad Med. 2010 Apr;85(4):631-9. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181d2b095.


Purpose: To determine whether professional activities, professional productivity, and salaries of life sciences faculty differ by gender. The authors undertook this study because previous studies found differences in the academic experiences of women and men.

Method: In 2007, the authors conducted a mailed survey of 3,080 life sciences faculty at the 50 universities whose medical schools received the greatest amount of National Institutes of Health funding in 2004. The response rate was 74% (n = 2,168). The main outcome measures were a faculty member's total number of publications; number of publications in the past three years; average impact score of the journals in which he or she had published; professional activities; work hours per week; the numbers of hours spent specifically in teaching, patient care, research, professional activities, and administrative activities; and annual income.

Results: Among professors, the women reported greater numbers of hours worked per week and greater numbers of administrative and professional activities than did the men. Female faculty members reported fewer publications across all ranks. After control for professional characteristics and productivity, female researchers in the life sciences earned, on average, approximately $13,226 less annually than did their male counterparts.

Conclusions: Men and women in the academic life sciences take on different roles as they advance through their careers. A substantial salary gap still exists between men and women that cannot be explained by productivity or other professional factors. Compensation and advancement policies should recognize the full scope of the roles that female researchers play.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biological Science Disciplines* / economics
  • Biological Science Disciplines* / education
  • Biological Science Disciplines* / statistics & numerical data
  • Efficiency*
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit / methods*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States
  • Work Capacity Evaluation
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*