discoveries magazine

Medicine’s Gender Gap

When Harvard Medical School admitted its first female, in 1850, vigorous protests ensued, prompting the groundbreaking student to withdraw. History would soon be on her side. By the end of World War I, women were trickling into the profession. Eventually, the trickle became a stream. Women continue to make strides, but disparities remain. Here is a brief by-the-numbers account of the triumphs and challenges of women in medicine.


The first female Jewish physician to practice in Los Angeles, Sarah Vasen, MD, joins Cedars-Sinai’s predecessor, Kaspare Cohn Hospital, as its first paid resident physician and superintendent.


Percentage of female residents in obstetrics/gynecology in 2015; other top specialties for female residents include pediatrics (75%), family medicine (58%), and psychiatry (57%).


Percentage of female medical school graduates in 2015. This represents an increase from less than 40 percent in 1995 and a mere 10 percent in 1980.


Percentage of full-time medical faculty positions held by women. Only 16 percent of medical schools are led by a female dean.