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Faculty Diversity in U.S. Medical Schools: Progress and Gaps Coexist

In U.S. medical schools, faculty diversity is linked to student diversity and cultural competence of graduates, among other things. Even though medical school faculty diversity has been increasing overall, it has not kept pace with the diversity of medical school students or the general society at large. In this Analysis in Brief, the authors examined trends in racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in full-time faculty at U.S. medical schools in the last half century; reviewed the gaps in those trends that persist; and analyzed the association between faculty diversity and matriculating student diversity to provide a current understanding of these issues. Results show that during the time period 1966–2015, female and URM proportions grew nearly twofold for assistant professors, associate professors, and professors. However, the proportion of URM faculty overall remained below 10 percent and the proportion of women remained below 37 percent for both clinical and basic science departments in 2015. Results also yielded several patterns in these changes. First, lower-rank faculty remained more diverse than higher-rank faculty for the entire time period; second, clinical departments overall had a higher proportion of URM and women than basic science departments; and third, the proportions of female and URM faculty correlated positively with that of incoming medical students. These results suggest that continuing to promote and increase diversity among faculty remains important for medical schools.

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