The study did not speculate on the reasons for the gender gap, but Andriole says it could be linked to "the lengthier training requirements for board certification. That is often more of an issue for young women than young men because they are thinking about starting a family," she says.
Andriole concedes that some of the disparities could be self-correcting as more women and minorities enter medicine. "The graduates we looked at had graduated from 1998-2002," she says. "We are just now seeing women graduate in the current era of work-hour restrictions during graduate medical education and possibly some increased flexibility regarding maternity leave policies during residencies. Those may to some extent help."
"Although the women in our study weren’t as likely to complete the board certification as the men were, there are still a net increase in the numbers of women becoming surgeons, and the numbers of women surgeons who are on faculty," Andriole says. "Slowly the increase number of role models for women may help."