When I went to medical school it was 5 percent. Now we’re almost half.” “That’s true,” I said, “60 percent of the biologists who are graduating are female, 52 percent of the population is female, but only 45 percent of the medical school class is female. So we’ve actually got more competition for fewer slots.” “Oh,” she said, “and we have made progress.” I told her that we have, but we have more to do.

Research and Teaching

At the NIH our interests are in research. Recent data from AAMC or from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology [FASEB] show this is a tremendous time to move ahead in translational research. We need well-trained M.D.’s and M.D.-Ph.D.’s who can take science from the bench to the bedside, who can do the translational research needed to take advantage of all the advances we’re making right now. It’s a very exciting time in science.

Unfortunately, the number of M.D.’s who are going into research is falling. Even though medical scientist training programs are in place, producing well-trained M.D.-Ph.D.’s, we can’t compensate for the number of slots we’re losing in fellowships and training grants. We need to do something to encourage M.D.’s or M.D.-Ph.D.’s who want to go on and work in medical research careers. In fact, we need to look at this pathway to see how we can get M.D.’s, D.D.S.’s, and D.V.M.’s to move into clinical research. If we don’t have these folks, we’re not going to be able to take advantage of all the things going on right now. Considering that the growth in degrees in biology and chemistry, both at the B.A. and the Ph.D. level, is among women, the future and growth potential of the societies represented here rests in capturing that expanding portion of the market.

As for what’s happening to women at universities and medical colleges, the situation for women on the basic science faculty did not change much between 1990 and 1998 (Table 1). For the medical clinical faculty, the situation is even worse. Overall in 2001, for all faculty, only 12 percent of the full professors at medical schools were women. A slight increase (3.5 percent) is evident at the assistant professor level, and at the associate professor level there has been fairly

TABLE 1 Women Faculty in Basic Science Departments of Medical Schools, 1990 and 1998 (percent)

 

1990

1998

Change

Full professor

9.7

13.6

3.9

Associate

19.2

25.4

6.2

Assistant

29.3

32.8

3.5

Instructor

40.9

41.9

1.0

SOURCE: Association of American Medical Colleges.



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