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Women and Radiology: Working Toward a More Female-Populated Industry

A number of studies, articles and surveys have been published in recent years addressing the lack of females within the radiology industry. Even though women today make up 46% of the medical industry, only 27% are pursuing careers in radiology. These low numbers are nothing new – as a matter of fact, the numbers have remained stagnant over the last decade.

As expected, these statistics are driving medical professionals to scratch their heads and wonder: why is there such a gender disparity in the field?

Some possible answers to this question may include:

  • Lack of Role Models or Mentors – Since there is an overall lack of women in radiology, women currently in medical school may as a result be exposed to fewer women who have chosen to become professional radiologists. This could mean that female medical students may not have a female mentor or role model currently in the field to give them the push or encouragement to pursue a similar career, like they might in other medical fields.
  • Prominence in Other Specialties – Though there is a lesser number of women in radiology, there has also been a rise in the number of women in other medical specialties, which could be contributing to the shortfall. These areas commonly include:
    • OB/GYN
    • Pediatrics
    • Family medicine
    • Psychiatry
  • Longer Amount of Training – Although rewarding, a career in radiology requires a longer residency and/or a fellowship program (roughly around five years compared to a traditional three years) which may not be as appealing to women wanting to expedite their medical careers.

The Benefits of Females in the Radiology Industry

Although there are many contributing factors that have led to women opting out of working toward a career in radiology, such as the three reasons listed above, there are still many benefits that women would be able to utilize by becoming radiologists. Some of these benefits may include:

  • Variety of Subspecialties – Professionals in the field of teleradiology can choose to take part in additional fellowship programs. Although these take longer, as mentioned above, doing so would result in the ability to choose from subspecialties such as:
  • Positive Job Outlook – Factors such as high education levels and the knowledge of many medical imaging technologies makes the outlook for radiologists traditionally positive. Positions in radiology are expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024.
  • Wide Range of Imaging Technology – Both male and female radiologists become proficient in using many pieces of medical imaging technology during their careers. These can include the following:
    • CTs
    • MRIs
    • PET/CT
    • Ultrasounds
    • X-rays

How Can We Boost the Number of Women in Radiology?

Because radiology is a rewarding career that has many benefits, it would be worthwhile for the medical field to take steps to recruit more career-oriented women into the industry. Efforts to do this are already being made in certain areas, with organizations such as the American Association for Women Radiologists making strides by providing networking and mentoring specifically for females in the field on a regular basis.

In addition to this increase in networking and mentorships, it may be possible that there is simply a lack of awareness for women in the medical field regarding the opportunities and benefits available within a radiology career.

To combat this, the American College of Radiology performed a study on the under-representation of females in the industry by examining 185 radiology residency programs across the country from 2004-2014.

Over this ten-year period, the following results were noted:

  • The percentage of females entering the field stayed stagnant at 27%
  • Female radiology program directors increased from 22% to 30%
  • Chairwomen in radiology increased from 8% to 10%

Based on these results, the study concluded that “there have been no substantial changes in the number of women entering radiology residencies despite widespread attention to this topic over the last ten years.”

This being said, there are still other ways that colleges and medical professionals can work toward increasing the number of women in the radiology industry. These ideas can include:

  • Networking Opportunities – Women in the medical sector could potentially be invited to networking opportunities in their area by colleges, hospitals, radiology organizations and more, to allow them to meet female professionals working in the industry.
  • Promoting Women in Leadership Positions – The ACR Commission on Human Resources puts out a survey on an annual basis to better understand representation within the radiology workforce.

    Based on their results and the problematic lack of women in radiology careers, the ACR has prioritized giving women more leadership positions. By showing female medical students that women can be leaders in radiology, the organization is hoping that this will result in an increase of radiology enrollment for women.

An increase in networking and the promotion of women in leadership roles for the radiology field would both be promising steps forward for recruiting more females into the industry in the future.

Interested in Learning More? Browse Our Website!

If you’re a woman who is interested in learning more about radiology and all the career path can offer, you can refer to some of these informative blog posts on our website:

If you have any questions about a career in radiology or about our services, feel free to contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!