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Female Radiologists Read Fewer Advanced Imaging Studies

Female Radiologists read fewer advanced imaging studies

July 12, 2019 -- Female radiologists interpret fewer advanced imaging studies than their male counterparts, according to a study published online July 4 in Academic Radiology.

This kind of "horizontal segregation" -- the disparity between genders in this distribution of responsibilities -- may have a negative impact on women in the field, discouraging them from seeking careers in radiology and affecting their compensation, promotion, and career advancement opportunities, wrote a team led by Dr. Gelareh Sadigh of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

"In radiology, one could hypothesize that a source of horizontal occupational segregation could be differences between genders in the interpretation of different modalities (i.e., the relative distribution of a radiologist's clinical work effort among basic versus advanced modalities)," the group wrote. "Given the potential far-reaching impact of clinical practice patterns on compensation, promotion, prestige, and status within a practice, as well as collaboration and research opportunities, any such differences would be important to recognize."

Distribution of Labor

The under-representation of women in the radiology workforce is receiving increased attention, but the distribution of tasks, labor, and responsibilities between genders is not, Sadigh and colleagues wrote. So, the group conducted an analysis to investigate the existence of horizontal workplace segregation in radiology as exhibited in differences in the distribution of clinical work among imaging modalities.

The study data came from the 2016 Medicare Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File and included 22,445 Medicare-participating general, neuro, abdominal, cardiothoracic, and musculoskeletal radiologists. The researchers stratified work effort in radiography, ultrasound, CT, and MRI by gender. Of the 22,445 radiologists, 19% were female; of these, 30.6% were in academic practices compared with 17.1% of male radiologists.

Of the women radiologists, the group found the following:

-- 60.7% were generalists.

-- 14.6% were neuroradiologists.

-- 13.3% were abdominal radiologists.

-- 6% were cardiothoracic radiologists.

-- 5.4% were musculoskeletal radiologists.

Sadigh and colleagues found that being female was associated with lower work effort in advanced imaging modalities such as CT and MRI, although results were not statistically significant across all types of radiologists.

Percentage work effort across imaging modalities by gender