Radiation, medical oncology faculty lag in diversity

Radiation oncology (RO) and medical oncology (MO) academic faculty have increased the representation of women from 1970 through 2019, but inclusion of those underrepresented in medicine (URM) has lagged, according to a study published online Dec. 9 in JAMA Oncology.

Sophia C. Kamran, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues evaluated trends in academic faculty representation by sex and by race and ethnicity for RO and MO departments. The analysis included data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (1970 through 2019).

The researchers found that total faculty numbers increased over time in both RO and MO, with faculty representation of URM women proportionally increasing by 0.1 percent per decade in both RO and MO versus non-URM women faculty, which increased by 0.4 percent per decade in RO and 0.7 percent per decade in MO. There were no significant changes seen in faculty representation of URM men for RO or MO. Compared with their representation in the U.S. population in both 2009 and 2019, representation of both women and URM individuals among both specialties was low. In 2019, the number of total URM faculty represented among both MO and RO remained low for every rank (MO: instructor, 5 percent; assistant professor, 7 percent; associate professor, 7 percent; and full professor, 5 percent; RO: instructor, 6 percent; assistant professor, 6 percent; associate professor, 4 percent; and full professor, 4 percent).

“Oncologic faculty diversity is an important initiative to help improve care and address health disparities for an increasingly diverse U.S. population with cancer,” the authors write.