Where Are the Women in Radiation Oncology? A Cross-Sectional Multi-Specialty Comparative Analysis

Bismarck Odei, Jenna Kahn, Emma Brey Holliday, Dayssy Alexandra Diaz, Erika Bello-Pardo, James Odei, Junu Bae, Andrea Arnett, Raju Raval, Darrion Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: We aimed to evaluate the growth of women within the general radiation oncology (RO) workforce in comparison to the growth among other medical specialties. We also sought to create a predictive model for gender diversity to guide future recruitment efforts. Methods and Materials: We identified 16 medical specialties, including RO, for analyses. We used data from the Association of American Colleges and assessed female representation at 4 time points (2006, 2011, 2016, and 2020). Additionally, we determined characteristics of medical specialties that were predictive of increased gender diversity. We performed univariate statistical analysis with linear regression to evaluate factors predictive of greater gender diversity among the medical specialties in our cohort. Results: The proportion of women within the represented specialties increased over time. Obstetrics/gynecology (14,750 [2006], 23,921 [2020]; 18.7% absolute growth) and dermatology (3568 [2006], 6329 [2020]; 15.1% absolute growth) experienced the highest absolute growth in female representation between 2006 and 2020. When assessing changes between various time points in RO, the absolute change in female physicians increased by 1.5% between 2006 and 2011, by 2.2% between 2011 and 2016, and by only 0.4% between 2016 and 2020, which was the lowest growth pattern relative to the other 15 specialties. Factors predictive of gender diversity among specialties were lower average step 1 scores (P = .0056), fewer years of training (P = .0078), fewer work hours (P = .046), the availability of a standard third year clerkship for a given specialty (P = .0061), and a high baseline number of female physicians within a specialty (P = .0078). Research activities (P = .099) and interest among matriculating medical students (P = .28) were not statistically significant. Conclusions: The percentage of women in RO lags behind other medical specialties and has been notably low in the last few years. Interventions that incorporate novel initiatives proposed within this study may accelerate current recruitment milestones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100735
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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