The University of Alabama at Birmingham employs more female neurosurgery faculty than the national average, reaffirming efforts to increase diversity within the university and the UAB Health System. Women represent only 12 percent of neurosurgeons in the United States and Canada, according to the National Institutes of Health. At the UAB Department of Neurosurgery in the School of Medicine, women make up 25 percent of the overall faculty and 21 percent of the clinical neurosurgeons.

Surgery in general, and neurosurgery in particular, have long been male-dominated specialties. Commitment to diversity is a cornerstone of UAB, and we feel that our entire department, from faculty to trainees, as well as our patients, are well served by a diverse workforce.
James Markert, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the department.

According to a study published in 2019 in the journal Cureus, less than 10 percent of medical school graduates in the 1960s were women. Now, almost half of all medical school graduates are women.

UAB’s neurosurgery department has 27 faculty members. Seven are women: two full professors, three assistant professors, one adjunct professor and one instructor. In addition, 16 percent of the current residents in neurosurgery are female.  

The 2019 study in Cureus reported that less than 6 percent of full professors in neurosurgery were women. At UAB, that number is 20 percent, as two of UAB’s 10 full clinical professors, Melissa Chambers, DVM, M.D., and Kristen Riley, M.D., are women. 

The increase in female physicians over the past few decades has also fueled an increase in research into women’s health, and an increase in the number of women recruited to participate in research studies. 

Research must be representative of the entire community.  You cannot study a disease, medication or therapy in just one segment of society. In order to be effective, research must be conducted in everyone affected: men and women, minorities, those with differing socioeconomic status or cultural perspectives.
Nicole Bentley, M.D., an assistant professor who joined UAB’s faculty in September 2018
There are conditions that affect women more than they do men, and conditions that affect the genders in different ways,” she said. “Having more women in medicine can help to address women’s health issues in a more direct fashion
Elizabeth Liptrap, M.D., assistant professor 



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