The Huge Gender Gap Among Recipients of Lasker Awards

The Lasker Awards have been awarded annually since 1945 to people who have made important contributions to medicine or public service on behalf of medicine. Despite a stated commitment to diversity by the awards committee, a new study by scientists at several major U.S. medical schools found that among the 397 Lasker Award recipients since 1946, 92.2 percent were men and 7.8 percent were women. Only one woman of color has won a Lasker Award.

The researchers found that the proportion of women among award recipients in the most recent decade is similar to the first decade of awards. The number of women in academic medicine and biomedical research continues to increase, yet the proportion of women among Lasker Award recipients has not changed in more than 70 years. Also of note is the fact that since 2014, when the initial diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative was published by the Lasker Foundation, men have earned nearly 87 percent of all Lasker Awards.

The authors call “for further investigation of possible factors that could hinder women from entering the pool of eligible award recipients.” The findings also show that simply publicizing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives does not necessarily guarantee change or equitable practice, the researchers added.

The full study, “Women and Non-White People Among Lasker Award Recipients From 1946 to 2022: Cross Sectional Study,” was published on the website of the British Medical Journal. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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