Sex differences in academic advancement. Results of a national study of pediatricians

N Engl J Med. 1996 Oct 24;335(17):1282-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199610243351706.


Background: Although the numbers of women in training and in entry-level academic positions in medicine have increased substantially in recent years, the proportion of women in senior faculty positions has not changed. We conducted a study to determine the contributions of background and training, academic productivity, distribution of work time, institutional support, career attitudes, and family responsibilities to sex differences in academic rank and salary among faculty members of academic pediatric departments.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all salaried physicians in 126 academic departments of pediatrics in the United States in January 1992. Of the 6441 questionnaires distributed, 4285 (67 percent) were returned. The sample was representative of U.S. pediatric faculty members. Multivariate models were used to relate academic rank and salary to 16 independent variables.

Results: Significantly fewer women than men achieved the rank of associate professor or higher. For both men and women, higher salaries and ranks were related to greater academic productivity (more publications and grants), more hours worked, more institutional support of research, greater overall career satisfaction, and fewer career problems. Less time spent in teaching and patient care was related to greater academic productivity for both sexes. Women in the low ranks were less academically productive and spent significantly more time in teaching and patient care than men in those ranks. Adjustment for all independent variables eliminated sex differences in academic rank but not in salary.

Conclusions: Lower rates of academic productivity, more time spent in teaching and patient care and less time spent in research, less institutional support for research, and lower rates of specialization in highly paid subspecialties contributed to the lower ranks and salaries of female faculty members.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Career Mobility*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pediatrics / economics
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Teaching / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data