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Table of Contents    
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 585-586

Author's reply

1 Department of Psychiatry, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
2 Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Date of Web Publication3-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Divyanshu Dubey
Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 27147187

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How to cite this article:
Atluru A, Dubey D. Author's reply. Neurol India 2016;64:585-6

How to cite this URL:
Atluru A, Dubey D. Author's reply. Neurol India [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Dec 5];64:585-6. Available from:

Dear Sir,

Vilanilam et al.,'s letter brings about an interesting argument detailing why the gender gap exists in academic neuroscience and how to go about remedying it.[1] We agree with many of the points brought about by Vilanilam et al., and we detail our thoughts in this article.[1] The letter takes on the complex task of examining an extensive timeline of women in science, spanning back to the 19th century, and looking forward to the 22nd century.

We agree with the notion that much of the difficulties in closing the gender gap comes from long perpetuated societal prejudices. Women, for the majority of the past 1000 years, have been looked at as leaders in the home front. The leadership qualities valued in women have traditionally been those related to the activities of home and hearth—child rearing, social functions of the family, the ability to manage and the overall managerial role of the family unit. Hence, the qualities most highly prized in women prior to the 20th century were qualities along the lines of nurturing and homeliness.

Medicine, by contrast, up until the past 60 years, was almost universally governed through a 'patriarchal' model, and it's most valued qualities developed accordingly. Medicine, thus, for centuries, has valued qualities such as authority, delegation, physical stamina and work ethic. When women entering medicine, adopted these values, they were often frowned upon as being aggressive, impulsive, and neglectful of their familial duties.

The tide has turned with regard to women entering medicine, with 40-60% of students in medical schools being women; however, at the highest levels in academic medicine, women still lag far behind.[1] This lag is further discussed in our article “Trends in authorship based on gender and nationality in published neuroscience literature.”[2]

As we discussed in our article, one reason for this lag may indeed be that women's childbearing years coincide with their most professionally critical time period. Additionally, many women are not given the proper resources to assist them with their traditional household chores and child bearing. Providing incentives to accommodate for marital, parenthood, and familial responsibilities is indeed the way to increase women's longevity in academic medicine and neuroscience.[2]

We agree with Vilanilam et al., that women, or any other group under-represented in academic medicine, must not be given “quotas or reservations” as the “knee jerk” response.[1] Being given a position as a “reservation” only perpetuates the myth that women are somehow unequal in academic and professional life to men, thus they must be “handed out” positions or promotions. Instead, academic institutions must take steps to accommodate the needs of women scientists such as affordable childcare, maternity leave, and safe work environments.[3]

As our original article relayed, there has been a non-statistically significant rise in female first and senior authorship over the decade between 2002 and 2012.[2] Before women can indeed compete in a pure meritocracy, devoid of gender bias and gender inequity, academic institutions must create work venues conducive to retaining their women faculty.[4]

Society must communicate to men that it is acceptable and honorable to take part in their family's day-to-day obligations. Men must let go of the idea that their “manhood” is solely tied to their professional advancement. Besides childbearing itself, many other household responsibilities can and should be shared equally by both the partners in a relationship. Additionally, society must not frown upon women for displaying qualities like strength and authority.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Vilanilam GC, Easwer HV, Vimala S, Radhakrishnan A, Devi BI, Nair SN. Women and neuroscience publishing: Is the gender gap closing in? Neurology India 2016; 64:  Back to cited text no. 1
Dubey D, Sawhney A, Atluru A, Amritphale A, Dubey A, Trivedi J. Trends in authorship based on gender and nationality in published neuroscience literature. Neurol India 2016 Jan;64:97-100.  Back to cited text no. 2
Pell AN. Fixing the leaky pipeline: Women scientists in academia. J Anim Sci 1996;74:2843-2848.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bauman MD, Howell LP, Villablanca AC. The Women in Medicine and Health Science program: An innovative initiative to support female faculty at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Acad Med 2014;89:1462-1466.  Back to cited text no. 4


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