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More Women Are Going Into Medicine, But Radiology Remains A Boys’ Club

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by Nada El Garhy, May 24, 2018.

  1. Nada El Garhy

    Nada El Garhy Golden Member

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    The current generation of medical students are closing a well-established gender gap, but radiology still ranks 11th on women’s preferred specialty lists, while it falls fifth on men’s, researchers have reported in Academic Radiology.

    Though radiology has been called the “epitome of lifestyle-friendly careers,” the most recent Association of American Medical College data revealed just 27 percent of radiology applicants are women, corresponding author Roopa Ram, MD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues wrote. That’s inconsistent with other gender trends, like the fact that the most recent numbers reflect an even split between male and female med school students.

    “Total medical school classes have become much more evenly divided,” Ram et al. wrote. “Given the influx of women into the field of medicine, the question has been raised as to why the numbers of women in radiology do not seem to be increasing accordingly.”

    The authors used deidentified 2011-2016 data from the AAMC’s Graduation Questionnaire, a national survey of fourth-year medical students, to analyze which factors influenced 71,941 respondents in choosing their specialization. Students were asked to identify what drove them to their choice, including their career objectives, mentor situation, possible salaries compared to debt, family considerations and interest level.

    The top 10 specialty choices for men and women were pulled, according to the study. While radiology made it on the women’s list, it came in dead last. Pediatrics topped women’s preferred specialties, while internal medicine, family practice, general surgery, emergency medicine, psychiatry and neurology also made appearances. Compared to men, who prioritized internal medicine, emergency medicine, anesthesiology and ortho surgery above radiology, just 3 percent of women selected the specialty at all.

    “Although radiology has been traditionally considered to be a controllable lifestyle specialty, with desirable attributes such as flexible job hours, broad range of subspecialty choices and competitive salaries, the most recent statistics show that only a quarter of radiologists are women,” Ram and co-authors said.

    Women were most likely to make their choice based on its fit with their personality and interests, content, work-life balance, mentoring opportunities and future family plans. The only statistically significant difference between men and women in these cases was mentorship—something Ram et al. wrote is vital but needs to be further developed.

    “Not only was mentorship a strong factor influencing female medical students, it was a much more significant factor compared to male medical students,” the authors said. “This may have implications for efforts to increase the proportion of women in radiology in the future.”

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