The status of women in academic anesthesiology: A progress report

Cynthia A. Wong, Marie Christine Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The number of women in medicine has increased steadily in the last half century. In this study, we reassessed the status of women in academic anesthesiology departments in the United States in 2006. METHODS: Medical student, resident, and faculty rank gender data were obtained from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Data regarding the make-up and gender of anesthesia subspecialty society leadership, the editorial boards of Anesthesia & Analgesia and Anesthesiology, the awardees of anesthesia research grants, American Board of Anesthesiology examiners, and department chairs were obtained from websites, organization management personnel, and the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology. Anesthesiology data were compared with composite data from medical school departments in other clinical specialties and to data from previous years, beginning in 1985. RESULTS: The percentage of medical school graduates, anesthesiology residents, and anesthesiology faculty members who are women has increased since 1985; however, the rate of increase in the percentage of women is significantly faster for medical school graduates compared with anesthesiology residents (P < 0.001) and faculty (P < 0.05). The percentage of women anesthesiology faculty members who were full professors in 2006 was 6.5% compared with 17.7% of men faculty (P < 0.001) and is not significantly different than in 1986 (P = 0.27). Fourteen percent of full anesthesiology professors were women and this does not differ from all clinical specialties combined (15%). Women comprised 12.7% of academic anesthesiology chairs and 10% of all medical school department chairs in 2006, significantly higher compared with 1993 (P < 0.05). Currently, 8% and 11% of editors and associate editors of Anesthesiology and Anesthesia & Analgesia are women, respectively. Eighteen percent of American Board of Anesthesiology oral board examiners in 2007 were women compared with 8% in 1985 (P < 0.05). The percentage of time in which women have served as anesthesiology society leaders was significantly greater during 1997-2006 compared with 1987-1996 (P < 0.001). The proportion of competitive research grants awarded to women has not changed over several decades. CONCLUSIONS: The status of women in academic anesthesiology in the first decade of the millennium has, by some measures, advanced compared with 20 yr ago. However, by other measures, there has been no change. The task ahead is to identify factors that discourage qualified women medical students, residents, and junior faculty members from pursuing careers in academic anesthesiology and advancing in academic rank.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-184
Number of pages7
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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