The Troubling Decline of Black Men in Academic Medicine

A new study led by Sophia C. Kamran, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School and a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, finds that over the past generation while female representation rose dramatically in U.S. medical schools, the number of Black men in academic medicine stagnated or decreased.

Researchers analyzed data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges for full-time faculty members in 18 clinical academic departments over the period from 1977 through 2019. Black and women and men still represent a small part of total clinical faculty, the study found. Perhaps most worrisome, AAMC data indicate that, in general, growth and representation of Black men in academic medicine has stagnated or decreased, particularly among clinical faculty and department chairs, a trend that began about a decade ago. “This is an area in desperate need of study, because we need to reverse these trends in order to address the lack of Black leadership at all levels of academic medicine,” says Dr. Kamran.

Researchers also compared the faculty data with population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. They found that the proportion of women in academic medicine today has risen sufficiently over the past four decades to more closely mirror that of the population of women in this country. However, while U.S Census data also show that the country is rapidly becoming more diverse, academic medicine is not keeping pace with population change: Underrepresented minority representation at all levels in academic medicine is further away from reflecting the U.S. population today than it was in 2000.

The full study, “Intersectional Analysis of U.S. Medical Faculty Diversity Over Four Decades,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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