For decades men dominated the field of medicine. However, surveys reveal that the number of women is increasing in this area, even surpassing the number of men who have entered medical universities.
According to a report published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), more women are becoming doctors in recent years. While this growth has helped to diversify the field of medicine, women are still concentrated in some specialties and barely visible in others. In the US, women have focused on specialties such as family medicine and pediatrics.
According to the AAMC, since 2015 there has been an increase in the number of female students studying medicine in the United States. This progress can be added to the milestone achieved in 2017, when, for the first time, women were the majority among first-year medical students. The proportion of students has increased in recent years, from 46.9% in 2015 to 49.5% in 2018. In 2019, women represented 50.5% of all medical students.
With so many female students studying medicine, the number of women working in the health area has also increased: in the US, between the years 2007 to 2019, the increase was from 28% to 36%. The specialties with the highest percentage of women are mainly aimed at children and women, including:
- Pediatrics - 64.3%
- Obstetrics and gynecology - 58.9%
- Child and adolescent psychiatry - 54.0%
- Neonatal-perinatal medicine - 52.8%
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Female protagonism in other areas of health
In other areas of health such as Nutrition, Social Assistance, and Speech Therapy, women exceed 90% in their participation. In the areas of Nursing and Psychology, the percentage reaches 85%. Even, they are the nurses, technicians, and nursing assistants, mainly, who are on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus.
Women remain a significant minority in such specialties as urology (9.5%), pulmonary disease (12.3%), and surgical specialties from general surgery (22%) to orthopedic surgery (5.8%).
Aging in the profession and new students
44.9% of physicians were age 55 or older — up from 44.1% in 2017 and 37.6% in 2007. The growing number of physicians nearing retirement age is one factor behind a projected physician shortage, which the AAMC has said needs to be addressed by increasing the capacity of the nation’s graduate medical education system.
The specialty trends for residents somewhat mirror the trends among physicians like the primary care specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, and neurology.