National Data Suggest “Leaky Pipeline” For Women and Minorities in Pediatric Cardiology

National data suggest persistent disparities in women and underrepresented minorities in medicine (URMM) in pediatric cardiology programs in the U.S., according to a study published March 20 in JACC.

Sowmya Balasubramanian, MD, MSc, et al., conducted a web-based survey to determine the representation within U.S. pediatric cardiology fellowship training programs, including among leadership roles, to help address the need for data in this field.

The survey had an 85.2% completion rate (52 of 61 programs) with a total of 1,570 faculty and 438 fellows responding, across a wide range of programs by size (7-109 faculty, 1-32 fellows). In addition, descriptive analyses at the hospital, faculty and fellow level were performed.

Results showed that women make up a smaller proportion of the pediatric cardiology workforce, with even less URMM representation. Specifically, while 60% of the overall pediatric workforce is women, the survey found that in pediatric cardiology only 45% of faculty are women and only 55% are fellows. Moreover, the proportion of women in leadership in pediatric cardiology was low, at only 39% of clinical subspecialty directors, 25% of endowed chairs, and 15% of division directors.

Representation by URMM was even lower, with 22.4% of programs reporting no URMM faculty and 47.1% reporting no URMM fellows. The survey found that only 10% of faculty and 14% of pediatric cardiology fellows were URMM. Of note, the authors write that URMM comprise about 35% of the U.S. population.

The authors write that to their knowledge this is the first study of its kind to assess the current state of diversity in pediatric cardiology. Furthermore, that the current landscape of pediatric cardiology points to persistent disparities for women and URMM and that we “have great work to do to improve the recruitment, advancement, and retention of diverse physicians, and pediatric cardiology is no exception.”

In an accompanying editorial comment, Elizabeth DeWitt, MD, and Roberta G. Williams, MD, MACC,  call for more targeted efforts to be made to “actively seek out more diversity in hiring” and “to ensure that women and URMM are achieving the academic qualifications and leadership experience to be considered candidates for these roles,” such as creating committees to review and uphold diversity in pediatric cardiology programs.

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: Physicians, Faculty, Workforce, Cardiology, Leadership, Fellowships and Scholarships, Male, United States, Female

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