Sign Up for a Free Account


Your career: Confronting the challenges of being a woman in neurology

Neurology is a highly specialized and demanding field, and the journey can be even more challenging for women. Despite the growing number of women entering the field, gender disparities persist in various aspects of neurology.

Unequal representation

  • Women make up a minority of neurologists. According to the American Academy of Neurology, only 30% of neurology faculty positions in academic institutions are held by women (Abdennadher M, Patel S, Singhal D. Practice current; women in neurology. Neurology Journals. Available at:
  • Women are likewise underrepresented in leadership positions in neurology. Despite the growing number of women entering the field, the proportion of women in top leadership roles remains disproportionately low. Only 13.8% of full neurology professors are women (McDermott M, Gelb DJ, Wilson K, et al. Sex differences in academic rank and publication rate at top-ranked us neurology programs. JAMA Neurol 2018;75(8):956-61).
  • This gender disparity can result in a lack of diverse perspectives in decision-making processes, which can hinder the advancement of women in the field.

To address the challenge of representation, it is crucial to promote gender diversity in leadership roles by actively seeking out and supporting qualified women for positions such as department chairs, program directors, and research leaders. Institutions must facilitate female-centered networking opportunities, such as conferences and workshops specifically designed to connect women neurologists with peers and mentors. Encouraging senior neurologists to serve as mentors and sponsors for women in the field can also bridge the networking gap and help women climb the leadership ladder.

Pay disparities

  • Gender pay disparities are not unique to neurology but are prevalent throughout the medical profession. According to a study published in Neurology in 2022, the estimated annual salary for women neurologists was 10.7% less than that of their male counterparts after controlling for race, region, years of practice, practice setting, call status, leadership role, and subspecialty-wage category (Yu MM, Merillat SA, Weathers AL, Evans DA, Wolf RA, Ney JP. Gender discrepancies in neurologist compensation. Neurology 2022;98(9):e893-902.)

To address pay disparities, institutions should implement transparent and equitable compensation structures, ensuring that all neurologists are compensated fairly. Professional organizations should provide women neurologists with learning opportunities surrounding negotiation techniques and self-advocacy for career advancement.

Work-life balance

  • Neurology is a demanding field that requires long hours, and women may face additional challenges in balancing their work and personal lives, particularly if they have children or other caregiving responsibilities.
  • The demands of a neurology career can lead to feelings of burnout and job dissatisfaction. There is a dramatic gender difference in physician burnout rates: in 2020, 51% of US women physicians reported burnout versus 36% of male physicians (Kane L. Medscape national physician burnout and suicide report. Medscape 2021. Accessed February 14, 2023. Available at:

To mitigate these issues, institutions and practices can implement family-friendly policies, such as flexible work hours, part-time positions, and on-site childcare facilities. Creating a culture that values work-life balance for all neurologists can make the field more inclusive and attractive to women.

Gender bias, sexual harassment, and discrimination

  • Gender bias and stereotyping persist in the medical field, and neurology is no exception. Women neurologists may face preconceived notions about their abilities or additional pressure to prove themselves in a traditionally male-dominated field, all of which may undermine confidence and opportunities for advancement.
  • Sexual harassment is also prevalent in the field of medicine. A survey of clinician-researchers published in JAMA in 2016 found that 30% of women reported having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace compared with 4% of men. (Jagsi R, Griffith KA, Jones R, Perumalswami CR, Ubel P, Stewart A. Sexual harassment and discrimination experiences of academic medical faculty. JAMA 2016;315(19):2120-1).
  • Discrimination in the form of gender bias, stereotyping, and sexual harassment can lead to negative outcomes, such as decreased job satisfaction and a higher likelihood of leaving the field.

To combat gender bias and discrimination, institutions and individuals must actively work to create inclusive and respectful environments. Awareness campaigns, implicit bias training, and open dialogues about these issues can help change attitudes and foster a more supportive atmosphere for women in neurology.


Women have made remarkable strides in the field of neurology, contributing significantly to research, patient care, and education. However, there are still significant challenges and systemic barriers that women neurologists face, from gender disparities in leadership to work-life balance issues and gender bias.

Addressing these challenges requires collective efforts from institutions, professional organizations, and individuals within the field. By fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment, promoting gender diversity in leadership roles, and providing resources for career development, we can ensure that women continue to thrive and excel in the field of neurology. It is imperative that we work together to eliminate these barriers and create a more equitable and diverse neurology community for all.

Related MedLink Neurology Podcasts:

MedLink acknowledges the use of GPT-4 in drafting this blog entry.

Questions or Comment?

MedLink®, LLC

3525 Del Mar Heights Rd, Ste 304
San Diego, CA 92130-2122

Toll Free (U.S. + Canada): 800-452-2400

US Number: +1-619-640-4660



ISSN: 2831-9125