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Getting to the Root of Gender Disparity in Radiology

By and large, females are largely underrepresented in radiology compared to gender distribution rates in other specialties, according to a report recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

There has been a long-standing gender disparity in radiology, and leading female radiologists have routinely pointed out the factors contributing to this gender gap. Out of all practicing radiologists, only 23.1 percent are women, whereas female physicians make up 46.6 percent of all other Medicare-participating physicians.

In this study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Emory University, and New York University looked at career data at a variety of academic facilities across the country from the Medicare Physician Compare database. They found that overall, representation rates differed by state, county, and practice levels, and disparities could often be attributed to demographic, socioeconomic, and political factors.

There are more female radiologists practicing in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, with Washington DC having 39.3 percent female radiologists, Massachusetts with 34.2 percent, and Maryland with 31.5 percent. The states with the lowest representation were Wyoming with 9 percent, Montana with 10.7 percent, and Idaho with 11.7 percent. The researchers also found that 32.3 percent of female radiologists hold academic positions, a higher figure than those in non academic positions (20.6 percent). There are also more women radiologists in states with high female-to-male earnings ratio.

“The variety of data presented here suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing female underrepresentation in radiology may not be effective for reducing geographic disparities,” write the researchers. “Identifying which states, counties, and practices, as well as related factors, are associated with greater or lesser female representation could help in informing and implementing initiatives to reduce disparities and more actively engage women in the specialty as a whole as well as in all of its facets.”

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