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Blacks Remain Underrepresented in U.S. Medical School Faculty

No medical specialty has Black faculty representation in proportion to current U.S. population estimates


WEDNESDAY, Aug. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- From 1990 to 2020, there were only minimal increases in the proportion of Black U.S. medical school faculty, according to a research letter published in the Aug. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christopher L. Bennett, M.D., and Albee Y. Ling, Ph.D., from the Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, used the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster to examine trends (1990 to 2020) in the proportion of U.S. medical school faculty who self-identified as Black or African American by sex, academic rank, and clinical specialty.

The researchers found that in 1990, 2.68 percent of U.S. medical school faculty self-identified as Black or African American versus 3.84 percent in 2020. This increase was mostly driven by an increase in self-identified Black or African American female faculty (0.96 versus 2.32 percent; difference, 1.36 percentage points). Assistant professors represented the largest group of self-identified Black or African American faculty by number and had the largest increase (1.38 versus 2.27 percent; difference, 0.89 percentage points). Fourteen specialties had less than 5 percent of faculty who self-identified as Black or African American in 2020, with obstetrics and gynecology having the highest proportion (8.50 percent) and otolaryngology having the lowest (1.96 percent). Nine specialties had less than a 1 percent change in the past 30 years. No specialty had proportions comparable with current U.S. population estimates of 13.4 percent.

"Study limitations include that self-reporting of multiple races by faculty increased over time," the authors write. "Even if this contributed to the increase in Black or African American faculty, the inadequacy of representation to date is still evident."

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