Gender Equality in Neurosurgery and Strategic Goals Toward a More Balanced Workforce

Sarah Woodrow, Jillian H. Plonsker, Deborah Benzil, Ellen L. Air, Sharona Ben-Haim, Martina Stippler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Women in Neurosurgery (WINS) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons published a white paper in 2008 setting an ambitious goal for women to comprise 20% of neurosurgery residents by 2012 and 20% of practicing neurosurgeons by 2020. Although there has been steady progress, we have fallen short of these benchmarks. We take this opportunity to look back at the accomplishments made over the past decade and provide an update on our present status. We evaluate current barriers toward progress and propose new goals, highlighting the systemic changes necessary to accomplish them. We propose the following updated recommendations to recruit and retain diverse talent into the neurosurgical workforce. (1) Neurosurgical departments and societies should provide diverse, early formal mentorship opportunities for medical students, residents, and junior faculty members. (2) Parental leave policies must be delineated, promoted, and enforced for all neurosurgeons, with greater awareness of internal discrimination and normalization of the discussion surrounding this topic. (3) We need to strive for compensation equity, with transparency in compensation mechanisms and regular assessment of compensation metrics. (4) Departments and institutions must have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and discrimination and establish a safe reporting structure. Finally, we propose attainable benchmarks toward achieving gender balance in the neurosurgical workforce, with a goal for women to comprise 30% of the entering residency class by 2030 and to comprise 30% of practicing neurosurgeons by 2038. We hope that this will guide further progress toward our future of building a balanced workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-647
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender equality
  • Neurosurgery
  • WINS
  • Women in neurosurgery


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