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Opportunities for Women - Doors Are Open

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsOpportunities for Women - Historical Overview, Women's Health Issues, Medicine: A Career For Women, Doors Are Open


By 1975, enrollment of women in medical schools increased to 20%, and by 1980 to 29% of the total number of medical students. For the 2005–06 academic year, first-year women made up more than 40% of the entering class (see Table 8.1). About 50% of the women and (men) who applied since 2005–2006 were admitted to medical school. Of the 126 U.S. medical schools, more than 50 currently have a total female enrollment greater than 50%, and less than 15 schools have a total female enrollment of 40% or less. Consequently, all the other medical schools (about 60), have an enrollment of 40 to 50% women, a dramatic change over the past several decades.

The impact of increased enrollment of women is shown by the fact that in the 40-year span between 1930 and 1970 only 14,000 women graduated from medical school, while over the 10-year period between 1970 and 1980 more than 20,000 women graduated.

The increase in total enrollment that has taken place is not due to an improved aptitude on the part of women students applying or an increase in the number of women obtaining their baccalaureate degree. Rather the increase is probably due to the following reasons: (1) a perceptible change in society's attitude toward women in medicine, particularly in the educational climate; (2) the realization that women make up a vast and untapped source of medical talent; (3) the obvious difference between the proportion of female doctors in this country as against other countries; and (4) the increase in the trend for women to become wage earners, reflecting a changing cultural pattern.

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