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June 25, 1982

Advancement of Men and Women in Medical Academia

JAMA. 1982;247(24):3311. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320490015010

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To the Editor.—  I read the article by Wallis et al and the accompanying editorial by Dr Witte. Even at this early stage in the study of the differential success rates of men and women in medical academia—the stage of descriptive epidemiologic studies—I wonder if errors are not being made in the formulation of the basic research hypothesis to be examined.I think that there are attractive alternative hypotheses to the assumption that either some intrinsic characteristic of women (a second X chromosome?) or some hostility of the academic environment toward those with such a characteristic makes success less likely. From an evolutionary point of view, differentiation between these two alternative hypotheses seems a moot issue.I would propose that an acquired characteristic of the aspiring medical academician might correlate better with success or survival than inherent chromosomal material. That characteristic is the presence of a "wife." The presence or