Gender differences in resources and negotiation among highly motivated physician-scientists

J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Apr;30(4):401-7. doi: 10.1007/s11606-014-2988-5. Epub 2014 Aug 12.


Background: Resources, including space, equipment, funding, personnel, and protected time, are essential in academic medical careers. Negotiation often plays a key role in the distribution of these resources.

Objective: This study explored gender differences in resources, negotiation behaviors, and negotiation outcomes in a sample of career development awardees.

Design: Postal survey of a cohort of 1,708 clinician-researchers with responses from 1,275 (75 % response rate).

Participants: Researchers who received NIH K08 or K23 awards between 2006 and 2009.

Main measures: We analyzed gender differences in resources, negotiation behaviors, and negotiation outcomes, using regression models adjusted for race, K award type, K award year, degree, academic rank, specialty, and institutional funding.

Key results: Over one-fifth of respondents reported inadequate access to research space and one-third had asked for increased space or equipment. Perceived adequacy of these physical resources did not differ significantly by gender, but a higher proportion of women reported inadequate access to grants administrators (34.8 %) and statistical support (49.9 %) than men (26.9 %; p = 0.002 and 43.4 %; p = 0.025, respectively). Women were more likely to have asked for reduction in clinical hours (24.1 % vs. 19.3 %; p = 0.02) and to have raised concerns about unfair treatment (50.2 % vs. 38.2 %; p < 0.001). Overall, 42.9 % of women and 35.9 % of men asked for a raise in the two years preceding the survey (p = 0.09), and among those who had asked for increased resources, the likelihood that the request was granted did not differ significantly by gender.

Conclusion: Many career development award recipients report resource needs and negotiate for increased resources. Gender differences in perceived access to research support personnel exist even in this select cohort of K awardees. Institutions should provide appropriate training in negotiation and ensure adequate and equitable distribution of resources to promote academic success.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Resources / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Negotiating* / methods
  • Physicians / economics*
  • Physicians, Women / economics
  • Research Personnel / economics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / economics*