Men and women attend medical school in equal numbers, but the numbers aren’t equal when it comes to academic medicine.
Only 12 percent of women faculty members get promoted to full professor, compared to one-third of male faculty, according to this release from Tufts University, which goes on to note that at the nation’s 125 medical schools, on average there are only 35 women full professors compared with 188 male full professors per school, and women hold only 8 percent of clinical science department chairs and 8 percent of deanships.
The National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health have called “for an urgent broad national effort” to address these numbers. In response, five medical schools and the American Association of Medical Colleges are taking part in a five-year study — the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine — to “explore and address the dramatic under-representation of women and minority faculty in leadership and senior positions in academic medicine.”
The demonstration sites for the study include the medical schools at Duke University, George Washington University, Tufts University, University of Minnesota and University of New Mexico.
“Lack of women representation in leadership roles in the physical sciences is a real problem. As we continue to educate and train the female physicians and researchers of the future, we must encourage and support their career paths towards leadership and academic careers,” said Michael Rosenblatt, MD, dean of Tufts University School of Medicine.
“Everyone knows there is a problem, but we do not as yet have full and reliable answers to correct it,” said principal investigator Linda Pololi, MD, a senior scientist and resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis.
“Our strategy is to engage senior leaders in academic medicine in a collaborative learning process so that they can better understand the faculty members’ perspective as well as their own organizational approach,” Pololi added. “Our goal is for each medical school partnering in the project to develop models for the rest of the country.”