Achieving fellow status in medical societies is an important benchmark for academic success. A study presented at the CHEST Annual Meeting 2018 shows that women are underrepresented as Fellows in CHEST but that the numbers of women applying for CHEST Fellow are increasing.
Medicine has historically been a field dominated by men, particularly for physicians.
Women in medical professions face a number of unique obstacles, such as societal biases, stereotyping and an unequal division of household labor that make the field of medicine unwelcoming to women. These challenges are barriers to academic advancement and may contribute to the difficulties in academic advancement within medical societies. Researchers aimed to describe the relationships between gender and academic advancement as defined by membership in a medical society fellowship.
Researchers compared shared data regarding demographics and certain professional characteristics of current CHEST Fellows as well as the gender of the 2017 applicants to Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) and the gender of corresponding letter of recommendation authors.
In 2017, 13 percent of the Fellows of the American College of Chest Physicians were women (n=1469 of 10,910). Within the cohort of CHEST Fellows, there were significant differences in gender by specialty; pediatrics had the most women (23 percent), while there were significantly less women in internal medicine (14 percent), allergy and immunology (7 percent), surgery (7 percent), anesthesiology (5 percent) and thoracic surgery (4 percent). There were no differences in gender between United States and non-United States-based fellows. In the cohort of applicants to fellow in 2017, 20 percent were women. When examining the letters of recommendation, 75 percent of the sets of letters of recommendation were both from men, while only 3 percent were both from women and 23 percent had one of each gender.
Female applicants had at least one letter from another woman 38 percent of the time, while men had a letter from at least one women 21 percent of the time, although this was not statistically significant (OR 2.26; 95 percent CI 0.81-6.28). Male applicants had two letters from men 79 percent of the time compared with 62 percent of women having both letters from men.
The proportion of female Fellows within the CHEST organization (13 percent) is low and below the national average of women physicians (30 percent) and pulmonary and critical care physicians (18-33 percent). However, there is a higher proportion of women in the 2017 applicants to Fellow of CHEST. Both applicant genders were more likely to receive letters of recommendations from male physicians.
“The data highlight how far we have to go toward improving representation of women in the highest level of medicine and in medical societies,” says Dr. Roozehra Khan. “It also identifies gaps in leadership opportunities and provides a possible opportunity to cultivate change by encouraging women to mentor other women in academic medicine.”
Further results from these two studies will be shared at CHEST Annual Meeting 2018 in San Antonio on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Centre, Exhibit Hall.