Medical schools have done a good job of recruiting women to their faculties but still rarely promote them to be deans, department heads and tenured professors, a study published Thursday concludes.
The report found that even though their numbers have grown dramatically, women still hold only a small share of the best jobs at medical schools. A decade ago, 8 percent of women faculty were full professors. Now 9 percent are. By comparison, 32 percent of men faculty are professors.This means there are few women role models for young doctors.
"Indeed," the report in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes, "there are few departments in any school in which a student can readily find a woman physician in a senior position who is happy with both her professional life and available to give the student pointers and support."
However, just why women doctors don't make it to the top is still unclear.
"We don't know if the women are choosing not to be on the tenure track or whether it's a whole series of smaller decisions that are made for them because there isn't a flexible schedule for taking care of small children," said Janet Bickel, who directed the study and is head of women's programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington.
Among the findings:
-Even though women make up 19 percent of medical school faculties, they hold 7 percent of the full professorships.
-During the past 10 years, the number of women on medical school faculties has grown from 6,249 to 10,840.
-Two of the nation's 127 medical schools are headed by women, compared with none a decade ago. The number of medical school departments led by women has increased from 56 to 70.