ACR members ID barriers to building a diverse radiology workforce

In radiology and radiation oncology women represent one in four physicians and underrepresented minorities make up one in 14 physicians, rates that indicate unsuccessful recruitment strategies, according to the authors of a recent Journal of the American College of Radiology study.

Researchers sought to better understand how physicians perceive attributes of their work environment and workplace relationships in hopes such information could help them identify barriers to increasing diversity in radiology.

“Factors driving the lack of gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in radiology and radiation oncology are poorly understood,” wrote Pari V. Pandharipande, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues. “This circumstance suggests that workforce disparities may be driven in part by core problems that remain unexposed and that attenuate the benefits of such corrective efforts.”

The team sent an electronic survey to 900 ACR members asking about physician’s attitudes toward their work environment and relationships, profession attributes, culture of diversity and respect, career recommendation and personal and professional characteristics between February 27, 2018, and April 26, 2018. Women were oversampled to create equal representation.

Overall, 461 responses were counted; 51% identified as women and the 9.5% who identified as black or African American, Hispanic or American Indian or Alaska Native were counted as underrepresented minorities.

Unfair or disrespectful treatment was identified as a “dominant” concern, the authors noted. Women and underrepresented minorities were substantially more likely to experience such unfair treatment at work. Additionally, women were more likely to report such treatment as attributable to gender compared to men.  

In terms of race and ethnicity, 27.9% of underrepresented minorities reported unfair or disrespectful treatment as attributable to their racial makeup compared to 2.6% of whites. A lower proportion of minorities said they felt comfortable sharing information about their identify and background with colleagues.

One important finding, the authors noted, was that women were more likely to prefer a same-gender mentor and a higher proportion of underrepresented minorities reported they would like a mentor of the same race/ethnicity compared to other groups.

“Our results suggest that workplace culture could represent a primary barrier to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of these individuals,” the authors concluded. “The formulation of strategies to identify and address sources of this problem, at granular, local levels, should represent a top priority in our professions. Such efforts are likely to represent a critical step toward reducing barriers to building a diverse physician workforce in the years to come.”