Feb 16, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

In what was once a male-dominated profession, the field of medicine is finally seeing a significant uptick in the number of women in medical school.

Historically, the field attracted more men because of the long working hours--which are not conducive to raising a family, and the rigorous math and science background--which women statistically were less likely to pursue than they are now. 

What's changed? The medical school pipeline.

In an article in The Chicago Tribune, Geoffrey Young, senior director for student affairs and programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges said, "Many of these programs show that women are just as talented and capable in the sciences." He added, "We are pleased to see this increasing diversity in what has been a white male-dominated profession."

Yolanda Haywood, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and associate dean for student affairs at George Washington University's medical school attributes some of the success to a cultural shift in attitudes toward working mothers.  She said that people in the past thought it was "an unreasonable choice" to make for mothers to spend so much time on their careers. 

One concern regarding the uptick in numbers? Burnout. 

Kim Templeton, former president of the American Medical Women's Association and a professor of orthopedic surgery at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City said, "Even as busy professionals, women are still the ones in the family who are expected to take care of all these things at home."

Current first-year medical student Gifty Dominah agrees. In the article, she said that even though she knew she wanted to be a doctor since the age of five, "The biggest issue is knowing when to start a family, and doing it without putting your career in jeopardy, particularly when you are competing with people who seemingly don't have to take time off."

Learn more about medical school

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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