Addressing the Lack of Women in Leadership Positions in Academic Pediatrics

A new study led by researchers at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia examines the gender gap in leadership positions in pediatric medicine.

The study notes that in 2017, women were 35 percent of all physicians in the United States but 63 percent of all pediatricians. Women made up 57 percent of all medical school faculty in pediatrics but were just 35 percent of all full professors in pediatrics and 26 percent of pediatric department chairs.

Nancy Specter, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University and the lead author of the study, stated that “the field of pediatrics is often cited as a brighter spot in the pervasive bias and discrimination felt by women throughout academic medicine. Although career equity is greater than in years past, our research shows no time left for excuses aimed at legitimizing inequality.”

Professor Specter added that “the pipeline of qualified women is there, yet study after study shows that few women are reaching leadership roles and other coveted opportunities in academic medicine. We need to move past claims that have been used to suppress the advancement of women and discourage diversity. Such claims harm research and patient care at all levels in academic medicine.”

To move toward greater diversity in pediatric leadership positions, the authors recommend employing leadership accountability, dedicating financial and human resources to gender equity initiatives, and ensuring such efforts are evidence-based, data-driven and transparent in evaluation and reporting.

The full study, “Women in Pediatrics: Progress, Barriers, and Opportunities for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” was published in the journal Pediatrics. It is available here.

Filed Under: Gender GapLeadershipResearch/StudySTEM Fields

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