Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Borges and colleagues1 describe the paths that lead women to academic medicine. We commend them for shedding light on this important topic. As faculty members of the University of California (UC) system, we are keenly aware of the need to increase the representation of women among the academic faculty ranks.2 Due to the projected population growth in California, coupled with a large number of health science faculty reaching retirement age, there will be a need to replace and increase this pool in the next decade. Addressing faculty diversity in the health sciences within the UC system, and elsewhere, is essential for creating the future leaders in teaching, research, and clinical care.
One important subgroup not discussed by Borges and colleagues is that of women of color, who have an even smaller representation in academic medicine. The creation of pipeline programs from premedical school through the academic ladder could be a tactic used to increase diversity in medicine. Encouraging women at the earliest stages of their medical careers and giving them information, skills, and motivation to pursue academic careers may be a way of ensuring their entrance into this track instead of hoping a road will lead them there, regardless of the fact that their career decisions are many years away.
Programs like the UC Diversity Pipeline Initiative are actively encouraging female medical students, including women of color, to pursue academic careers instead of hoping some will “settle” for them. We need to look closely at our pipeline efforts for women and be particularly strategic in catching and stimulating women of color’s interest in academic medicine throughout their training if we hope to increase their representation there.
Lourdes Guerrero, EdD
Assistant professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California; firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Ines Boechat, MD
Professor of radiology and pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California.
1. Borges N, Navarro A, Grover A. . Women physicians: Choosing a career in academic medicine. Acad Med.. 2012;87:105–114