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Where Are the Women?

Wecker, Lynn PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000781
Letters to the Editor
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Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida; lwecker@health.usf.edu.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

I read Mr. Gregory’s1 description of the cover art for the November 2014 issue with much interest, and was pleased that he felt that serving as a standardized patient at Albany Medical Center was a positive experience. His observations of the differences among the students that “set them apart from each other” were very interesting and confirmed my own observations as an educator of medical students for more than 30 years. Indeed, during the past 15 years, I have noticed a large increase in the diverse characteristics displayed by medical students, attesting to their uniqueness and individuality. However, what stood out to me the most about Mr. Gregory’s drawing was that all four of the students depicted were men.

Although Mr. Gregory’s drawing captured a specific moment and may not necessarily represent the student body at Albany Medical Center, or medical student demographics in general, I was taken aback that there were no female students in the room. As a consequence, I searched the available information to determine whether this image suggested a broader trend. Much to my surprise, I learned that the number of females applying to and matriculating in medical schools in the United States peaked in 2003 and then declined through 2012.2 Indeed, the percentage of females graduating from U.S. medical schools increased steadily until 2008–2009, and has decreased the past few years.3

I am saddened by these findings and hope that those who look at the cover of the November issue of Academic Medicine and Mr. Gregory’s comments reflect not only on the differences among the four male students in the room, but also think seriously about the underlying issues suggested by the absence of women in the drawing. I thank Mr. Gregory for bringing this issue to our attention and the editor for placing this drawing on the cover of Academic Medicine.

Lynn Wecker, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida; lwecker@health.usf.edu.

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References

1. Gregory M. Cover art—artist’s statement: Med students. Acad Med. 2014;89:1435
2. Roskovensky LB, Grbic D, Matthew D. The changing gender composition of U.S. medical school applicants and matriculants. AAMC Analysis in Brief. 2012;12:1
3. Henry Kaiser Family Foundation. . Distribution of medical school graduates by gender. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/medical-school-graduates-by-gender/. Accessed October 30, 2014.
© 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges