Racial and Gender Profile of Public Health Faculty in the United States of America

Cureus. 2022 May 14;14(5):e24998. doi: 10.7759/cureus.24998. eCollection 2022 May.


Introduction In the context of shifting population demographics in the United States (US), a diverse workforce in the discipline of public health can improve outcomes for various populations through the provision of culturally competent public health policies and corresponding research. This study explored the academic, racial, and gender profile of public health faculty in the USA. Methods In this retrospective cross-sectional analysis, we analyzed the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual report of faculty appointments at US medical schools. Descriptive data analysis was performed for chairperson, full professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, and other positions from 2007 to 2018. Results There was a decrease in appointments at all academic ranks from 2007 to 2018 with an absolute change of -239. Overall, most academic positions were occupied by Whites compared to other races, especially in leadership ranks. However, year-by-year analysis showed a gradual decrease in the number of positions held by Whites. Over the last decade, there was a positive trend with a marginally greater number of minorities appointed at academic ranks, specifically Asians. Similarly, no significant change was seen in appointments for Hispanics. Additionally, females occupied a greater number of new positions as compared to their male counterparts except for the higher academic ranks. The data obtained from the AAMC were voluntarily reported and thus may not provide a complete picture of medical faculty in academic medicine. Conclusion Women have shown progress in public health faculty positions during our 12-year study period. However, racial and gender incongruity still exists at higher academic ranks and leadership positions. Further research is warranted to explore factors influencing faculty appointment and promotion, and strategies to reduce inequities.

Keywords: academic rank; gender-based differences; public health education; research productivity; retrospective research.

Grant support

The study was partially supported by a grant from the Arrowhead Neuroscience Foundation and a grant from the Disparities Research Institute.