Over the past few years, I've heard the phrase “The future is female” often, and that seems to be true across a multitude of fields. Though clear disparities still exist, society is going in the right direction of reinforcing female representation and honoring women’s perspectives in different spheres. This trend seems to be particularly relevant in the diversifying field of medicine. Not only are we veering away from andronormativity, which is the assumption that the male body is the basis for medical research, but we are also witnessing a rightful increase in female doctors. In other words, males are no longer the default doctors or patients. The continuing influx of women across medical schools, professions, and specializations will foster the necessary inclusivity in treatments and practice that will benefit everyone. Here’s the breakdown of how female presence in medicine is growing:
- Medical Schools– The first places to look in projecting the future of a medicine are the institutions responsible for training the next generation of doctors. As it turns out, according to a 2019 study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) , female medical students are actually outnumbering their male counterparts. More specifically, of the registered medical students counted within the demographic survey, 46,878 of them are women (50.5%) and 44,585 are men (49.4%). These metrics indicate the gender equity in medical education access that we’d ideally sustain.
- Currently Practicing– Although men still outnumber women in practicing doctors with a respective 64%/36% split, as noted by another 2019 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, that male majority appears to deteriorate across generational lines. Athena Health has gathered only 17.6% of doctors over 65 years old are women. However, 51.5% of doctors in the 35-44-year age range and 60.6% of those <35 years old are female. Given the increasing presence of women in medical school already mentioned, hopefully with time, the demographics of practicing doctors will continue to lean towards further gender equality.
- Diversified Specializations– Though women are still the minority in the medical field at-large, there are some specializations that are chiefly led by females. For example, as indicated by a joint report by the American Medical Association and AAMC, 83% of gynecologists are women. (I’m personally grateful that female doctors take the charge in addressing distinctly female medical needs.) Also, the report notes 74% of practicing allergists and 72% pediatricians are female. Interestingly, there appears to be a roughly 50%/50% balance in male and female representation for sleep specialists, preventative medicine specialists, pathologists, and psychiatrists.
In essence, when it comes to medicine, and across all societal spheres, the future truly is female. We at LILAS Wellness are excited to see the ways in which this increase in female doctors will shape collective understandings of health and encourage us all more to be more attuned to supporting women's needs.