Background: Blacks, Hispanics, and women are underrepresented in academic medicine. This study sought to identify recent trends in the academic appointments of underrepresented groups at all levels of academic medicine.
Methods: This was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of the Association of American Medical Colleges' data on faculty at U.S. medical schools from 1997 to 2008. The distribution across race and gender at different academic ranks (instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor) and the leadership positions of chairperson and dean were calculated for each year of the study.
Results: Averaged over the 12-y study period, whites accounted for 84.76% of professors, 88.26% of chairpersons, and 91.28% of deans. Asians represented 6.66% of professors, 3.52% of chairpersons, and 0% of deans. Blacks represented 1.25% of professors, 2.69% of chairpersons, and 4.94% of deans. Hispanics represented 2.76% of professors, 3.37% of chairpersons, and 2.91% of deans. Women represented 14.7% of professors, 9.2% of chairpersons, and 9.3% of deans. Overall, there was a net positive increase in the percentage of minority academic physicians in this study period, but at the current rate, it would take nearly 1000y for the proportion of black physicians to catch up to the percentage of African Americans in the general population. Additionally, year-by-year analysis demonstrates that there was a reduction in the percentage of each minority group for the last 2y of this study, in 2007 and 2008.
Conclusions: Minorities, including Asian Americans, and women remain grossly underrepresented in academic medicine. Blacks have shown the least progress during this 12-y period. The disparity is greatest at the highest levels (professor, chairperson, and dean) of our field. We must redouble our efforts to recruit, retain, and advance minorities in academic medicine.
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