Gender imbalance persists in radiology profession

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Men represent the majority of the radiology workforce and hold more positions of leadership within the profession, while women are more likely to work part-time in academic and university settings than in private practice, according to the 2014 ACR Human Resources Commission Workforce Survey.

Results were published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology and based on responses offered by group leaders. This is the first time ACR’s workforce survey included questions investigating the composition of the radiology profession by gender.

The research team, led by Edward I. Bluth, MD, of The University of Queensland School of Medicine in New Orleans, found that 78 percent of the nationwide radiology workforce is comprised of men, with women making up the remaining 22 percent. Men also account for 85 percent of all full-time radiologists, while women make up a greater percentage of all part-time workers (46 percent) than their full-time counterparts (15 percent).

The study also found women to be more likely to work in university practices, with 43 percent of female radiologists practicing in academic environments compared with 31 percent in private practice. For men, 58 percent were private practitioners, with only 18 percent working in university settings.

Radiology practice leaders were overwhelmingly male, with 85 percent of leadership positions filled by men.

The authors suggest the reasons for these disparities could be more complicated than just gender bias within the profession. “Because the current cadre of radiologists graduated from medical school when women were less well represented, it is possible that the number of female radiologists will increase as male colleagues retire,” wrote Bluth et al. “More women work in academic practices, though the role of gender in this difference may be secondary to the benefits of a flexible schedule that allows for childcare and other family responsibilities, or to a desire to contribute to the academic mission.”

The team concluded that many additional factors, including salary parity and hiring practices of institutions and private practice groups, should be studied to create a more comprehensive understanding of the role of gender within the radiology profession.

In the medical profession overall, female influence seems to be trending upward, at least according to one recent study examining the growing number of female lead authors and editors-in-chief in academic publishing.