What deters women and minorities from pursuing careers in radiology?

New survey results published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology detail a slew of barriers that deter women and underrepresented minorities from pursuing a career in radiology. 

The questionnaire was distributed to medical students with varying degrees of radiology knowledge and/or exposure and sought to gauge how women and historically underrepresented minority medical students view radiology careers. Although the results were not all that surprising—approximately 70% to 75% of diagnostic radiology applicants to this day are men and consistently lack in diversity—experts involved in the study cautioned that the stagnancy of diversification is driving women and minorities away from the field completely, and efforts to change this are missing the mark. 

“Increasing diversity is an explicitly stated goal of many radiology departments and professional societies, and yet the message, and actions derived from these goals, may not be effectively reaching the individuals for whom they are addressed,” corresponding author Lars J. Grimm MD, MHS, from the Department of Radiology at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, and co-authors explained. 

Women comprised 59% of the 48 respondents, 35% of whom represented a minority. A major concern among the female participants was a lack of mentorship and role models. They also felt that efforts to portray radiology careers as family-friendly were patronizing and were discouraged by a lack of female leadership. 

Minority respondents had similar discrepancies and frequently cited concerns about pursuing a career in which there are very few professionals who look like them, which can make organically connecting with their peers difficult.  

Regarding this topic, one respondent wrote: 

“Why would students of color go into a profession where they aren’t going to feel welcome their entire career?” 

Minority participants also touched on the “hidden curriculum” that they are encouraged to pursue in lieu of specialties. Many Black respondents shared that they had been pushed to consider primary care or other similar fields that address underserved communities and healthcare disparities “because of their background.” 

The respondents did touch on witnessing active improvement efforts but noted their slowness as an issue. Experts involved in the study urged that more needs to be done to change this: 

“Medical students expect more active efforts to improve diversity, and radiologists need to take care in how they craft their outreach efforts.” 

More insights from the survey can be found in the Journal of the American College of Radiology

More on diversity in radiology: 

Recruiting diverse radiology residency candidates: 5 tips from program directors

Survey results reveal what influences medical students to choose radiology as a specialty

3 ways Vanderbilt's radiology department is laying the groundwork to address health disparities

Radiology departments are adapting to offer inclusive environments for transgender individuals


Lars J. Grimm, Laura J. Fish, Caroline Carrico, Jonathan G. Martin, Carolyn C. Meltzer, Charles M. Maxfield,
Hidden Curriculum and the Demographic Stoicism That Keeps Women and Minorities Away From Radiology: A Mixed-Methods Study of Medical Students,
Journal of the American College of Radiology, 2022.

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