Women Outnumber Men in Medical School and in Multiple Medical Specialties

January 2, 2020


It’s no secret that medicine has long been a male-dominated industry. Though Elizabeth Blackwell chipped the first crack in the glass ceiling more than a century and a half ago (admitted to medical school as a joke by male faculty and fellow students who assumed she’ quickly fail and bail), the floodgates didn’t exactly swing open for female physicians. The medical field’s gender gap continues today in most specialties though we may see that change in the coming decades.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the most male-dominated specialties in US medicine are:

  1. Orthopedic surgery – 95 percent male
  2. Thoracic surgery – 94 percent male
  3. Interventional cardiology – 93 percent male
  4. Urology – 92 percent male
  5. Vascular and interventional radiology – 91 percent male

As of October 2018, there are nearly 990,700 professionally active allopathic and osteopathic physicians nationwide. Of those, roughly 345,300 are female and 644,300 are male.

But things are changing in some areas. Six specialties where women dominate, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, are:

  1. Pediatrics – 62 percent female
  2. OB/GYN – 54 percent female
  3. Pediatric hematology/oncology – 52 percent female
  4. Child psychiatry – 52 percent female
  5. Internal medicine/pediatrics – 52 percent female
  6. Geriatrics – 51 percent female.

Clearly, the margins differ significantly, being far higher in male-dominated specialties than in female-led specialties. But while true equity between the genders in medicine may be far off, progress is being made as more women than ever are pursuing medical careers, tipping the scales in 2017 when, for the first time ever, female medical school entrants outnumbered male entrants.

All of this means that opportunity for women seeking medical careers is growing. To help boost your competitiveness, consider enrolling in WOLFPACC to help assure you’ll ace your USMLE and COMLEX exams. Call 904-209-3140 to learn more.