Reader Response 1a: Challenges to Successful Research Careers in Neurology: How Gender Differences May Play a Role

We read the interesting report by Minen et al.1 on sex disparities in the neurology research pipeline. The authors highlighted unique factors contributing to high rates of attrition among women faculty—besides family obligations—and discussed the negative implications of their early departure on the educational mission of academic medical centers. In addition to destabilizing the foundation of academic integrity, the sex gap in senior leadership roles in neurology threatens future opportunities for advancement of women. The disproportionately low numbers of women professors and chairs in neurology departments, of presidents of professional societies, of senior editors of specialty journals, and of recipients of AAN recognition awards are several examples of sex-related gaps.2,3 As Minen et al. suggest, NIH has attempted to promote career development for women through the Responsible Conduct of Research model, but the environment in research has not been entirely conducive to the 3 pillars. Because gaps have not closed on their own, intentional and strategic efforts at multiple levels are pivotal to meet the career goals of many talented and qualified women in neurology.4 The time is now to commit much needed additional resources to overcome structural and institutional barriers for women physicians and scientists in academic neurology.

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