Gender Inequality in Academic
Radiology: Road Blocks to Female
Faculty Success and How Flexibility
May Be the Key to Removing Them
Carolynn M. DeBenedectis
University of Massachusetts
Medical School, Worcester, MA
As a female radiologist at an academic medical center, I have experienced how gender inequality still exists in academic radiology. It is my impression that you do not
need to work in an academic radiology department to realize
that there is gender inequality in academia; all you need to do is
attend a staff meeting or an administration meeting to see the
paucity of female radiologists present.
It is not uncommon for the only other women at a meeting to
be administrative assistants—not physicians. While there are
female leaders in radiology, their small numbers support the
concept of gender inequality illustrating that only about 27% of
radiologists are women, and more specifically that only 28.1% of
academic radiologists are women even though most medical
students are women [ 1].
Even though I am a minority
in my department, I have found
that being a female academic radiologist is very rewarding and
has allowed me to achieve a
good work-family life balance
that I am not sure I could have
found in another clinical specialty or profession as demanding as medicine.
In theory, radiology should
be attractive to women due to its
“family friendly” potential—
and please note that I say “po-
tential” because the reality can
be quite different as our work-
loads and schedules change due to clinical pressures. Some
benefits for radiologists who are also mothers include PACS,
which allow radiologists to read and sign off on studies from
home, shift work to facilitate scheduling, and the ability to com-
plete the work day with very few take-home duties.
The problem is that many radiology departments do not allow their female radiologists to take full advantage of these
situations. In addition, many academic radiology practices
still offer academic time that could be flexible and even done
from home. It is unfortunate that in real life these flexibilities
are not always offered to academic radiologists, especially female radiologists.
Why it is that radiology leadership does not allow a job with
so much potential for flexibility to be flexible? I think that the
answer is in the numbers. There are very few female radiologists and even fewer women in leadership roles. Studies have
shown that working mothers bear the brunt of the childcare
and household responsibilities
compared with their male counterparts, thus women have
more of a stake in their job being flexible [ 2].
So, the crux of the problem is
with so few women in leadership roles in academic radiology, there is not a push for
flexibility in the workplace.
Nursing is an example of a profession where the vast majority
of leaders are women and mothers and thus have a vested personal interest in flexible work
environments. This likely ex-
Studies have shown that working mothers
bear the brunt of the childcare and household
responsibilities compared with their male
counterparts, thus women have more of a
stake in their job being flexible.
Women in Radiology: Bre