National medical specialty societies speak for their respective fields in policy debates, influence research, affect trainees’ specialization decisions, provide career development opportunities, and confer awards and recognitions. This study provides a comprehensive overview of the gender demographics of society members and leaders.
In 2016, the Group on Women in Medicine and Science (of the Association of American Medical Colleges) sought to characterize the gender of members and leaders of specialty societies from 2000 to 2015. This report provides descriptive data, including how many of the responding societies (representing each of 30 major medical specialties) had substantial (> 10%) increases in women’s representation among leadership between the first and second halves of the study period.
The average proportion of full members who were female in responding societies was 25.4% in 2005 and 29.3% in 2015. The proportion of women among those serving as the highest-ranking elected leader between 2000 and 2015 in each specialty ranged from 0% to 37.5% (mean, 15.8%). The mean proportion of women on governing boards ranged from 0% to 37.3% (mean of means, 18.8%) in 2000–2007 and from 0% to 47.6% (mean of means, 25.2%) in 2008–2015. In 9 specialties, the mean percentage of women serving on governing boards increased by over 10% from the first to the second half of the study period.
Although many women are full members of specialty societies, women still constitute a minority of leaders. This report establishes a baseline from which to evaluate the effect of societies’ efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.