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Gender Distribution Among American Board of Medical Specialties Boards of Directors

Published:October 07, 2016DOI:


      Since 1995, women have comprised more than 40% of all medical school graduates. However, representation at leadership levels in medicine remains considerably lower. Gender representation among the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) boards of directors (BODs) has not previously been evaluated. Our objective was to determine the relative representation of women on ABMS BODs and compare it with the in-training and in-practice gender composition of the respective specialties. The composition of the ABMS BODs was obtained from websites in March 2016 for all Member Boards. Association of American Medical Colleges and American Medical Association data were utilized to identify current and future trends in gender composition. Although represented by a common board, neurology and psychiatry were evaluated separately because of their very different practices and gender demographic characteristics. A total of 25 specialties were evaluated. Of the 25 specialties analyzed, 12 BODs have proportional gender representation compared with their constituency. Seven specialties have a larger proportion of women serving on their boards compared with physicians in practice, and 6 specialties have a greater proportion of men populating their BODs. Based on the most recent trainee data (2013), women have increasing workforce representation in almost all specialties. Although women in both training and practice are approaching equal representation, there is variability in gender ratios across specialties. Directorship within ABMS BODs has a more equitable gender distribution than other areas of leadership in medicine. Further investigation is needed to determine the reasons behind this difference and to identify opportunities to engage women in leadership in medicine.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties), BOD (board of directors)
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