New study: women are less likely to be U.S. medical school professors

Posted by Doximity TF Team


A new study from Harvard Medical School says that women are 17% less likely to have full professorships at US medical schools, in part because they are younger than their male counterparts. 

Using data assembled by Doximity, researchers from Harvard Medical School analyzed data from more than a million doctors and more than 90,000 U.S. medical school faculty members for the study. The research, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, paints one of the broadest pictures of women in academic medicine to date. 

Although the total number of women entering US medical schools has increased since 1970, the proportion of women at the rank of full professor in US medical schools has not increased since 1980. Currently, women make up half of all US medical school graduates.

Why do women face such extreme challenges to becoming full professors at US medical schools?

Many theories exist to explain the persistent gap between male and female promotions, including, according to one researcher, "suggestions that women are promoted less often because they take time off from their careers during childbearing, that they choose specialties that offer fewer opportunities for promotion, or that they are less productive because, on average, they make different work-life choices than men."

Sex differences in full professorship were present across nearly all specialties and were consistent across medical schools with highly and less-highly ranked research programs. In total, 30,464 women are medical faculty versus nearly 61,000 men. Even after adjusting for age, years of residency, scientific authorship, and grant funding from the National Institutes of Health clinical trial participation, female physicians were still 3.8% less likely to be full professors at medical schools, according to the study.

Why do you think there is such an equity gap at U.S. medical schools? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Send us an email at


Topics: equity gap at us medical schools, harvard medical school study

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