Women in Radiology: Exploring the Gender Disparity
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PURPOSE: In 2015, only 1.5% of female Canadian medical students pursued radiology as a specialty, versus 5.6% of men. The aim of this study was to determine what factors attract and deter Canadian medical students from pursuing a career in radiology, and why fewer women than men pursue radiology as a specialty. METHODS: An anonymous online survey was e-mailed to English-speaking Canadian medical schools, and 12 of 14 schools participated. Subgroup analyses for gender and radiology interest were performed using the Fisher exact test (P < .05). RESULTS: In total, 917 students (514 women; 403 men) responded. Direct patient contact was valued by significantly more women who were not considering specialization in radiology (87%), compared with women who were (70%; P < .0001). Physics deterred more women (47%) than it did men (21%), despite similar educational backgrounds for the two gender groups in physical sciences (P < .0001). More women who were considering radiology as a specialty rated intellectual stimulation as being important to their career choice (93%), compared with women who were not (80%; P = .002). Fewer women who were not interested in radiology had done preclinical observerships in radiology (20%), compared with men who were not interested in radiology (28%; P = .04). CONCLUSIONS: A perceived lack of direct patient contact dissuades medical students from pursuing radiology as a career. Women have less preclinical radiology exposure than do men. Programs that increase preclinical exposure to radiology subspecialties that have greater patient contact should be initiated, and an effort to actively recruit women to such programs should be made.
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