Women in Medicine?
According to Dr. Bernard Remakus, an internist and author, "Once upon a time, the American medical profession was comprised almost exclusively of white, male doctors1”. The medical profession has come a long way and in 2017, women comprised of more than half the new enrollees in medical school. However, despite the increase of women in medicine, women are paid lower wages, lack opportunities for mentorship and scholarship, are promoted at a lower rate and are faced with additional barriers to publishing and receiving grants, as compared to their male counterparts.
One program addressing gender disparity at the MD level is the Center for the Advancement of Women in Health Care at Rush University in Chicago, IL. Established and led by Drs. Shikha Jain and Sheila Dugan, the program is committed to fostering gender balance in health care leadership through data-driven answers to two key questions: Why do these disparities persist? How can we begin to narrow the gap? The answers are not simple or finite. The multi-faceted approach the Center is taking to understand and improve gender representation at various levels such as private practice, university teaching and research, and departmental leadership will provide a model for institutional best practices and individual professional development.
While there is still much work to be done, one sign of success is the Women in Medicine Summit. Founded by Drs. Shikha Jain and Mamta Swaroop, the Summit started as a symposium in 2018 and in September 2019 was organized as a full summit of female physicians collaborating to empower their colleagues to overcome the barriers they face, implement systemic changes at their institutions and their practices, and to improve the working lives of women currently in medicine and in the generations to come. The Summit in October 2020 will continue the momentum from this year and expand on Dr. Jain’s ideas and impressive body of work that not only addresses the need for gender balance, but also offers solutions. Along with Dr. Dugan and Dr. Swaroop, these women are providing a framework for correcting diversity imbalance and are building a national & international network of professionals, programs, and institutions to provide access to opportunities for aspiring health care professionals who otherwise may not ‘see themselves’ as future leaders in their field.
- Marcella Alsan & Owen Garrick & Grant Graziani, 2019. "Does Diversity Matter for Health? Experimental Evidence from Oakland," American Economic Review, vol 109(12), pages 4071-4111. 10.3386/w24787