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

The recent article by Mia Minen et al.1 presents eye-opening data about gender disparities in neurology research careers and outlines proposed solutions. Strategies for narrowing gender gaps can be flawed. Programs designed exclusively for women researchers can be seen as adversely affecting qualified men who meet specified criteria. However, blinding applicant gender ignores crucial foundational issues, such as discrepancies in early career mentorship. And when should efforts to narrow the gender gap happen? During training? In a neurologist’s early career? Is mid-career too late? Among their recommendations, the authors assert that “the NIH could further support women in academic medicine and women’s health research as a field by allowing the Office of Research on Women’s Health to become a funding institute.” Enhancing opportunities for funding can result in more research, which builds further door-opening track records. Beyond funding, policies for coordination and cooperation between research teams, transparency, simpler regulations, and practical ways of providing flexibility for research can help men and women neurology researchers. Creatively expanding resources promotes an environment of abundance, rather than scarcity. Ultimately, broadening research opportunities for women neurologists fosters the true goal of neurology, which is better patient outcomes.

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