Time to research Australian female physician-researchers

C. L. Traill, Andrzej S Januszewski, R. G. Larkins, Anthony C Keech, A. J. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Given the concerns that physician-researchers are 'at risk', and≈50% of Australian medical students are female, the evaluation of female physician-researchers is important. Aims: To compare over time (i) research-related metrics of male and female physician-researchers from Sydney Medical School; and (ii) National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project grant leadership by gender. Methods: The Sydney Medical School (SMS) PhD award lists from 1989 to 2012 were cross-referenced with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency database, and registered medical practitioners were searched for in the Scopus database for publications and H-indexes. The gender of medical-practitioner Chief Investigator A (CIA) in Australia on funded NHMRC Project grants in 1990 to 2014 was also compared. Results: Of the medical practitioners awarded University of Sydney PhD, females increased from 14 to 55% in 1989-1990 and 2009-2010 and decreased to 38% in 2011-2012 (overall increase, P=0.047). PhD award timings relative to MBBS and clinical fellowship completions were similar for both genders (P>0.05). Post-PhD, as many women as men publish and have similar H-indexes, but women publish fewer papers (0.7 vs 1.0 publications per year, P=0.028). On medical practitioner-led, funded NHMRC project grants between 1999 and 2014, female CIA increased from 7.5 to 19.5%, P<0.0001. For the 17% of project grant applications funded to commence in 2014, 21% were medical practitioner-led, of whom 19.5% were female. Conclusions: Since 1989, more female medical practitioners are completing SMS PhD at similar times in their careers to males. However, relative to their male peers, they publish less. Fewer female than male medical practitioner-researchers hold NHMRC Project Grant CIA status nationally, although the rates are increasing. In addressing physician-researcher workforce issues, including retention, attention should be given to factors impacting females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Education
  • Manpower
  • Occupational groups
  • Research personnel
  • Statistics
  • Trends
  • Women

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