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The Decanal Divide: Women in Decanal Roles at U.S. Medical Schools

Schor, Nina, F., MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001863
Research Reports
AM Rounds Blog Post

Purpose To test the hypotheses that women in medical school dean-level (decanal) positions occupy lower-rank and more image- and education-focused positions than men, and that state and woman-led schools have more women in decanal positions.

Method Data were collected on September 10–18, 2016, from Web sites of 136 allopathic, U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and represented on the roster of accredited MD programs in the United States with full accreditation as of June 22, 2016. Statistical significance of differences between comparison groups was assessed using Student t test with P < .05 indicating significance. Correlation between parameters was determined by Spearman rank correlation test with P < .05 indicating significant correlation.

Results Findings demonstrate that only 15% (22/149) of deans and interim deans are women, and the prevalence of women in decanal positions decreases with ascending professional rank (R 2 = 0.93; P < .05). Women are most prevalent in decanal positions focusing on education and mentoring or institutional public image and least prevalent in those focusing on corporate strategy and policy, finance, or government relations. Schools with a woman as dean or interim dean have a higher percentage of decanal positions occupied by women than those with a man as dean or interim dean (P < .05). State and private medical schools do not differ from one another in this regard.

Conclusions Gender stereotypes and models appear to continue to drive the number and roles of women in decanal positions.

N.F. Schor is William H. Eilinger Chair, Department of Pediatrics, and professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Neuroscience, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.

An AM Rounds blog post on this article is available at

Funding/Support: This study was funded by the William H. Eilinger Endowment in the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Nina F. Schor, Golisano Children’s Hospital at University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 777, Rochester, NY 14642; telephone: (585) 275-4673; e-mail:

© 2018 by the Association of American Medical Colleges