Gender differences in career development awards in United States' anesthesiology and surgery departments, 2006-2016

Lena M. Mayes, Cynthia A. Wong, Shanta Zimmer, Ana Fernandez-Bustamante, Karsten Bartels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Although the status of women in anesthesiology has advanced by many measures, obtaining career development funding remains challenging. Here, we sought to compare the characteristics of funded career development awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) between the specialties of anesthesiology and surgery. We hypothesized that the two groups differ in percentage of faculty with awards, gender distribution among principal investigators, as well as the number of awards promoting diversity. Methods: The NIH grant-funding database RePORT was queried for career development awards for the years 2006-2016 using the filters "Anesthesiology" and "Surgery." Grants were characterized based on the gender of the principal investigator and whether the funding opportunity announcement indicated promotion of underrepresented minorities (URM). The 2016 Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) report on "Distribution of U.S. Medical School Faculty by Sex and Rank" was used to adjust comparisons according to baseline gender distributions in anesthesiology and surgery departments. Cohorts were characterized using descriptive methods and compared using Chi-square or Fisher's exact test. Results: Based on our AAMC data query, in 2016, the number of women faculty members at the instructor or assistant professor level in U.S. medical schools was 2314 (41%) for anesthesiology and 2281 (30%) for surgery. Between 2006 and 2016, there were 88 career development grants awarded to investigators in anesthesiology departments compared to 261 in surgery departments. Of the grantees in each specialty, 29 (33%) were women in anesthesiology and 72 (28%) in surgery (P=0.344). Awards to promote URM were identified for two grants (2%) in anesthesiology and nine grants (3%) in surgery (P=0.737). Faculty members in surgery were more likely to receive an award than in anesthesiology (P<0.0001), and women were less likely to receive an award than men (P=0.026). Conclusions: The major difference between US anesthesiology and surgery departments is that the number of faculty career development awards is significantly higher in surgery departments. Future efforts should aim to identify the reasons for such differences in order to inform strategies that can improve the likelihood for junior faculty members to receive career development funding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number95
JournalBMC Anesthesiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 27 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesiology
  • Career development
  • Diversity
  • Funding
  • Gender
  • Grants
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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