Women Surgeons in Academic Medicine Hold Their Own in Grant Competitions

In recent years, the enrollment of women in medical schools has surpassed that of men for the first time. In 2019, there were 92,758 students enrolled in U.S. medical schools. Women made up 50.5 percent of total enrollments. That same year women made up 54.2 percent of all first-time medical school applicants.

Despite this progress, women still have a lot of catching up to do. For example, women are just 19 percent of surgeons in the United States. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that women make up just 19 percent of all surgery faculty and only 8 percent of full professors of surgery at U.S. medical schools.

A new study finds that women surgeons in academic medicine hold their own in the research field. The study found that women were principal investigators on 26.4 percent of all R01 grants funded by the National Institutes of Health. These grants are the most common and historically oldest form of NIH grant with a track record of productive, high-quality research.

“Females are underrepresented in academic surgery but hold a greater than anticipated proportion of NIH funding,” said Shayna Showalter, an associate professor of surgery for the University of Virginia Health System and a co-author of the study. “To me, this means that female surgeon-scientists are a crucial component of future surgical research. They have been able to succeed even in a very competitive research environment.”

The full study, “The Changing Face of Academic Surgery: Over-Representation of Females Amongst Surgeon- Scientists with R01 Funding,” was published on the website of the Journal of American College of Surgeons. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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