4 findings suggesting gender inequalities extend into breast imaging

Breast imaging radiology is largely dominated by women, but despite the fact, a stark gender disparity in the academic field remains, according to an American Journal of Roentgenology study.

A team of American and Canadian researchers published the retrospective study online Jan. 9, which examined faculty member data from diagnostic radiology departments in 170 U.S. programs, and 13 in Canada.

The group, co-led by Kiran Khurshid with the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital and Samad Shah with the Department of Radiology at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, looked at the number of documents authored, number of citations and h-index for the study. The h-index, which authors describe as the most useful metric, is an author-level metric containing the productivity and citation impact of the publication or author.

Below are some findings from the study:

1. Women make up a mere 25 percent of the U.S. radiology workforce.

2. Women are less likely to be full professors.

Most assistant (75.7 percent) and associate (63.5 percent) professors were women, and there were fewer female professors (47.8 percent) compared to male professors in the breast imaging field.

There were more women (59.7 percent) than men (40.3 percent) in leadership positions within the breast imaging specialty.

“In addition, gender disparity was nonexistent across leadership positions. This finding is concordant with findings from a 2014 American College of Radiology workforce survey that showed that women are in the minority among practice leaders. Our results support the notion that women do not advance in academic radiology at the same pace as men do,” Kurdish and colleagues wrote.

“Despite being underrepresented in breast imaging, more men than women were full professors, a finding that supports the notion that a level playing field remains a dream and potentially contributes to the lower academic achievement of women.”

3. Women-produced publications have risen, but inequality remains.

The number of publications produced by female radiologists has seen an uptick over time, but a “significant” gender disparity exists in scholarly production.

“Our findings further support the notion of persistent gender disparity in academic productivity, with female faculty having lower h-indexes than their male colleagues across academic ranks,” Kurdish et al. wrote.

4. A pay gap remains.

A study of 1,814 faculty at 24 medical schools revealed that female physician faculty face a significant salary inequity that gets larger with seniority.

“Our findings point to a need for further research into the factors that account for a significantly lower scholarly activity among women, even in a subspecialty such as breast imaging, which has a larger proportion of women,” according to Kurdish and colleagues.