The purpose of this study is to assess the current status of gender disparities in academic radiation oncology departments in the United States and the associated factors.
Methods and Materials
The data were collected from publicly available resources, including websites of individual radiation oncology programs, the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. We collected data on the gender information of residents in each year (postgraduate years 2-5) and of the faculty (attendings, program director, and chair) during the academic year 2018 to 2019. Spearman’s rho test, Pearson’s chi-squared test, and Fisher exact tests were used for evaluating the correlation among variables using SPSS version 24.
Women constituted 30.8% of radiation oncology residents in the United States in 2019. Eight programs (12.5%) did not have any female residents in their programs, whereas 6 programs (9%) had women constituting more than half of their resident class. The fraction of female medical students applying to radiation oncology over the last 7 years varied between 27% and 33%. Female attending physicians accounted for 30.5% of all the attending physicians in the academic programs. In the leadership positions of the department, the gender gap was wider where only 19 (20%) and 11 (12%) of programs had female program director or chair, respectively. There was a positive correlation between the number of attending physicians and the number of female residents in programs (P = .01).
A significant gender disparity continues to exist among the residents and physicians in the academic radiation oncology departments in the US. This disparity is pronounced in the leadership positions. The results of this study could be used as a benchmark to evaluate the progress that has been made by the efforts to improve gender disparities in radiation oncology.