- Although women now make up almost half of medical school graduates, the percentage of women attaining the rank of full professor at U.S. medical schools remains lower than that of men and has failed to increase since 1980.
- A recent JAMA study looked at possible factors behind the ongoing disparities in faculty rank, and found women less likely to reach the level of full professor even after accounting for age, experience, specialty and measures of research productivity, the abstract says.
- Institutions need to acknowledge and combat the bias against women, the authors write, by analyzing their promotion requirements clearly and publicly.
The research points toward an environment in academic medcine that disfavors women and therefore hurts medicine by dissuading women from entering the field.
An accompanying editorial states, “The potential of women in medicine and science, like those in many other professions, has not been fully realized. When compared with men, women in these fields are paid less, have higher rates of attrition, have fewer scientific publications and are less likely to apply for NIH funding and to be principal investigators. It is not surprising therefore, that women are less likely to advance to the highest ranks in academic medicine.”
A co-author of the editorial, Carrie Byington, associate vice president for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Utah Health Sciences, told Kaiser Health News the same concerns extend to factors including race, ability and sexual orientation.
The authors recommend training in implicit bias management, reviews of promotion and tenure processes, and additional flexibility through policies such as paid parental leave.