Purpose: This article describes the current position of women in the field of medicine.
Procedures: Material was gathered using a MEDLINE search for recent articles on women's career progress in medicine and data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Main findings: Although women now make up a large proportion of the medical student body in industrialized nations, they are still under-represented in a number of disciplines and in the higher echelons of medicine. A number of possible obstacles to career goals that presumably act synergistically include domestic responsibilities, rigidity in career structures and discrimination.
Conclusions: Organizations in the field of medicine can look to the business world for 'best practices' aimed at advancing women to incorporate in their own organization. Medical schools and other institutions are taking the issue seriously as can be seen from the variety of government and institution-based initiatives directed at improving the role of women in medicine.