Gender, Productivity, and Philanthropic Fundraising in Academic Oncology

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Subha Perni Harvard Radiation Oncology Program,
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Danielle Bitterman Harvard Radiation Oncology Program,
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Jennifer Ryan Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Julie K. Silver Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and

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Eileen Mitchell Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Sarah Christensen University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida; and

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Megan Daniels Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Mara Bloom Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Ephraim Hochberg Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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David Ryan Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Daphne Haas-Kogan Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jay S. Loeffler Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Nancy J. Tarbell Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Aparna R. Parikh Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Jennifer Wo Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center,

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Background: Philanthropic donations are important funding sources in academic oncology but may be vulnerable to implicit or explicit biases toward women. However, the influence of gender on donations has not been assessed quantitatively. Methods: We queried a large academic cancer center’s development database for donations over 10 years to the sundry funds of medical and radiation oncologists. Types of donations and total amounts for medical oncologists and radiation oncologists hired prior to April 1, 2018 (allowing ≥2 years on faculty prior to query), were obtained. We also obtained publicly available data on physician/academic rank, gender, specialty, disease site, and Hirsch-index (h-index), a metric of productivity. Results: We identified 127 physicians: 64% men and 36% women. Median h-index was higher for men (31; range, 1–100) than women (17; range, 3–77; P=.003). Men were also more likely to have spent more time at the institution (median, 15 years; range, 2–43 years) than women (median, 12.5 years; range, 3–22 years; P=.025). Those receiving donations were significantly more likely to be men (70% vs 30%; P=.034). Men received significantly higher median amounts ($259,474; range, $0–$29,507,784) versus women ($37,485; range, $0–$7,483,726; P=.019). On multivariable analysis, only h-index and senior academic rank were associated with donation receipt, and only h-index with donation amount. Conclusions: We found significant gender disparities in receipt of philanthropic donations on unadjusted analyses. However, on multivariable analyses, only productivity and rank were significantly associated with donations, suggesting gender disparities in productivity and promotions may contribute to these differences.

Submitted October 27, 2020; final revision received January 3, 2021; accepted for publication January 14, 2021.

Author contributions: Study concept: Perni, Bitterman, Haas-Kogan, Tarbell, Parikh, Wo. Data curation: Perni, Bitterman. Formal analysis: Perni, Parikh, Wo. Investigation: Perni, Bitterman, Parikh, Wo. Methodology: Perni, Bitterman, Haas-Kogan, Tarbell, Parikh, Wo. Project administration: Perni. Resources: J. Ryan, Mitchell, Christensen, Daniels, Bloom, Hochberg, D. Ryan, Loeffler, Parikh, Wo. Supervision: Wo. Visualization: Perni, Silver. Writing–original draft: Perni. Writing–review and editing: Bitterman, J. Ryan, Silver, Mitchell, Christensen, Daniels, Bloom, Hochberg, D. Ryan, Haas-Kogan, Loeffler, Tarbell, Parikh, Wo.

Disclosures: Dr. Parikh has disclosed serving on a data safety monitoring board for Roche; receiving institutional research support from Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb, PMV Pharma, Takeda, Plexxicon, and Puretech; serving as a scientific advisor for C2i; and serving on an advisory board for Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Checkmate Pharmaceuticals. The remaining authors have disclosed that they have not received any financial consideration from any person or organization to support the preparation, analysis, results, or discussion of this article.

Correspondence: Jennifer Wo, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Cox Building 3, Boston, MA 02214-2696. Email: jwo@mgh.harvard.edu; and Aparna R. Parikh, MD, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Blossom Street BAR, Boston, MA 02114-2696. Email: aparna.parikh@mgh.harvard.edu
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