Racial and ethnic disparities in faculty promotion in academic medicine

JAMA. 2000 Sep 6;284(9):1085-92. doi: 10.1001/jama.284.9.1085.


Context: Previous studies have suggested that minority medical school faculty are at a disadvantage in promotion opportunities compared with white faculty.

Objective: To compare promotion rates of minority and white medical school faculty in the United States.

Design and setting: Analysis of data from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Faculty Roster System, the official data system for tracking US medical school faculty.

Participants: A total of 50,145 full-time US medical school faculty who became assistant professors or associate professors between 1980 and 1989. Faculty of historically black and Puerto Rican medical schools were excluded.

Main outcome measures: Attainment of associate or full professorship among assistant professors and full professorship among associate professors by 1997, among white, Asian or Pacific Islander (API), underrepresented minority (URM; including black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Native American, and Native Alaskan), and other Hispanic faculty.

Results: By 1997, 46% of white assistant professors (13,479/28,953) had been promoted, whereas 37% of API (1123/2997; P<.001), 30% of URM (311/1053, P<.001), and 43% of other Hispanic assistant professors (256/598; P =.07) had been promoted. Similarly, by 1997, 50% of white associate professors (7234/14,559) had been promoted, whereas 44% of API (629/1419; P<.001), 36% of URM (101/280; P<.001), and 43% of other Hispanic (122/286; P =.02) associate professors had been promoted. Racial/ethnic disparities in promotion were evident among tenure and nontenure faculty and among faculty who received and did not receive National Institutes of Health research awards. After adjusting for cohort, sex, tenure status, degree, department, medical school type, and receipt of NIH awards, URM faculty remained less likely to be promoted compared with white faculty (relative risk [RR], 0.68 [99% confidence interval CI, 0.59-0.77] for assistant professors and 0.81 [99% CI, 0.65-0.99] for associate professors). API assistant professors also were less likely to be promoted (RR, 0.91 [99% CI, 0.84-0.98]), whereas API associate professors and other Hispanic assistant and associate professors were promoted at comparable rates.

Conclusion: Our data indicate that minority faculty are promoted at lower rates compared with white faculty. JAMA. 2000;284:1085-1092

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Mobility*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Prejudice
  • Racial Groups
  • Research Support as Topic
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • United States