WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Racial and ethnic diversity in U.S. clinical academic departments increased, but at a slower rate than proportions of women in faculty positions, during the past three decades, according to a research letter published online Aug. 30 in JAMA Network Open.

Alexander Yoo, M.D., from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and colleagues examined 30-year demographic trends across academic medicine departments to assess the proportion of individuals identifying as women or underrepresented groups in medicine (URM) between academic faculty and specialty-matched residents. Data included 16 clinical academic medicine departments in the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster from 1990 through 2019, with a representation ratio calculated as the proportion of women or URM for faculty in 2019 divided by that for residents six years prior.

The researchers found that of the 3.1 million faculty entries, 34.6 percent were women and 71.9 percent were for White physicians. By 2019, women comprised more than 50 percent of faculty members in five of 16 clinical academic departments. For eight of 16 specialties, proportions of URM faculty increased. While it had the highest proportion of women faculty, obstetrics and gynecology demonstrated the third lowest representation ratio (0.81), whereas orthopedic surgery had the highest representation ratio (1.48) but the lowest overall proportion of women faculty. For URM, the overall representation ratio was 0.76, with most specialties having representation ratios less than 1.0.

“Studies are needed to determine modifiable differences and how to implement change to optimize faculty demographics,” the authors write.

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