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Experts Pen 12 Implementable Steps For Addressing Gender Inequity In Academic Dermatology


Addressing gender inequity in academic dermatology involves strengthening societies, celebrating female dermatologists, promoting leadership, and equitable representation, authors wrote.

Two individuals seated at a table with papers and computers engaging in research
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A paper published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology presents 12 implementable steps aimed at addressing inequity in academic dermatology.1 The paper, published recently, is based on talks given at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Milan (September 2022) and the Women's Dermatologic Society's International Leadership Form in Singapore (July 2023).

According to the listed authors of the paper, Sophie Walter and Dedee Murrell, gender equity in medicine involves the pursuit of gender equity among clinicians and academics. This, they wrote, holds promise for delivering more informed, representative assessment and treatment options to patients and may also include a broader array of research initiatives and teaching curricula.

In 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges assembled a report on data from 2018 and 2019 assessing the state of women's presence in academic medicine. According to the report, women and men have been entering and graduating from medical school at similar rates since 2003. The proportion of full-time women faculty has been steadily increasing since 2009, reaching 41%, but women were still the majority only at the instructor rank.2

While the representation of women from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups in medicine among full-time faculty saw a slight increase, particularly at the assistant professor rank, a higher percentage of men advanced to higher positions after 7 years, though this gap narrows when looking at 10-year trends. Furthermore, despite a rise in the number of women department chairs over the past decade, they still only made up 18% of all department chairs.2

Researchers completed a literature search on PubMed, MEDLINE, and Embase, searching for English-language articles published from database inception to the end of November 2023. Key search terms included "academia," "dermatology," "gender," and "equity," among several other related terms.

In turn, researchers identified issues of gender inequity across several domains of academic dermatology, including faculty and department leadership, salary, publications, and more. In response, they penned a list of 12 implementable steps for addressing this inequity.

"Whilst the focus of this review is on gender inequity as it pertains to women, it is acknowledged that there is a broad range of genders and that gender is but one aspect of ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ initiatives," according to authors.

Strategies for Gender Equity

  1. Advocacy and Support Groups
  2. Recognition of Distinguished Women
  3. Representation in Editorial Roles
  4. Increased Author Representation
  5. Enhanced Conference Representation
  6. Mentorship Programs
  7. Pay Equity and Parental Leave
  8. Leadership Development
  9. Research and Monitoring
  10. Enforcement of Equity Policies
  11. Support for Well-Being
  12. Cross-Disciplinary Learning

Gender Equity Across Domains of Academic Dermatology

Faculty and Department Leadership

Research indicates that women occupy a minority of leadership positions in dermatology faculties worldwide. Despite comprising nearly half of all dermatologists in certain regions, women are significantly underrepresented in faculty head roles, indicating a persistent gender gap.


Studies examining salaries in academic dermatology suggest gender differences persist, with men earning higher median salaries across various faculty ranks. However, researchers noted a gradual trend toward closing this gap over time.


An analysis of dermatology journals revealed a disparity in the representation of female authors, particularly in senior authorship positions. Despite increased representation among top-performing authors in recent years, women remained underrepresented among leading authors and senior positions.

Conference Presentations

While the percentage of female speakers at dermatology conferences has increased over time, women still comprised a minority of presenters and had less speaking time compared to male counterparts.

Research Grants

Studies examining NIH-funded dermatology projects revealed fewer grants awarded to female principal investigators compared to male counterparts.

Editor and Editorial Board Roles

Women remained underrepresented in editorial positions across top dermatology journals.

Research Prizes

Gender disparities persisted in awards and prizes conferred by dermatology organizations, with women receiving a smaller proportion of prestigious awards compared to men.

"Gender inequity manifests in all domains of academic dermatology, devalues able professional women and hinders the flourishing of our field," according to the paper. "The challenges to address inequity—among these, disproportionate participation of women in childrearing and domestic tasks, lack of legislation for parenting leave and unconscious biases about women—are substantial, yet inactivity is not an option. All stakeholders are obligated to address the problem. The 12 steps that we have suggested are implementable and likely to lead to positive change."


  1. Walter S, Murrell DF. Gender equity in academic dermatology: Problems aplenty, yet paths ahead. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. April 12, 2024. Accessed April 16, 2024. doi:10.1111/jdv.20027
  2. Association of American Medical Colleges. 2018–2019 The state of women in academic medicine: exploring pathways to equity. Washington (DC). Association of American Medical Colleges. 2020. Accessed April 16, 2024. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/data/2018-2019-state-women-academic-medicine-exploring-pathways-equity
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