Factors influencing geographic gender disparity in neurosurgery: a nationwide geospatial clustering analysis

Anant Naik, Nicholas Peterman, Charuta Furey, Gabriella Paisan, Joshua Catapano, Drishti Bhardwaj, Ankitha Iyer, Maria Bederson, Suguna Pappu, Laura Snyder, Ann Stroink, Michael T. Lawton, Paul M. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE Women neurosurgeons (WNs) continue to remain a minority in the specialty despite significant initiatives to increase their representation. One domain less explored is the regional distribution of WNs, facilitated by the hiring practices of neurosurgical departments across the US. In this analysis, the authors coupled the stated practice location of WNs with regional geospatial data to identify hot spots and cold spots of prevalence and examined regional predictors of increases and decreases in WNs over time. METHODS The authors examined the National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers of all neurosurgeons obtained via the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), identifying the percentage of WNs in each county for which data were appended with data from the US Census Bureau. Change in WN rates was identified by calculating a regression slope for all years included (2015–2022). Hot spots and cold spots of WNs were identified through Moran’s clustering analysis. Population and surgeon features were compared for hot spots and cold spots. RESULTS WNs constituted 10.73% of all currently active neurosurgical NPIs, which has increased from 2015 (8.81%). Three hot spots were found—including the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions—that contrasted with scattered cold spots throughout the East Central regions that included Memphis as a major city. Although relatively rapidly growing, hot spots had significant gender inequality, with a median WN percentage of 11.38% and a median of 0.61 WNs added to each respective county per year. CONCLUSIONS The authors analyzed the prevalence of WNs by using aggregated data from the NPPES and US Census Bureau. The authors also show regional hot spots of WNs and that the establishment of WNs in a region is a predictor of additional WNs entering the region. These data suggest that female neurosurgical mentorship and representation may be a major driver of acceptance and further gender diversity in a given region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-290
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • cold spots
  • gender diversity
  • geospatial clustering
  • hot spots
  • mentorship
  • women in neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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