Women's Health USA 2007
Photographs of women's faces

Population Characteristics

Women in Health Profession Schools

The health professions have long been characterized by gender disparities. Some professions, such as medicine and dentistry, have historically been dominated by males, while others, such as nursing, have been predominantly female. Over the past several decades, these gaps have narrowed, and in some cases reversed. In 198081, 47.4 percent of pharmacy students were women, while in the fall of 2005, women represented more than 64 percent of pharmacy students. Even in fields where men are still the majority, the representation of female students has grown. In 198081, only 26.5 percent of medical students were women compared to nearly one-half (48.8 percent) of students in the fall of 2005. Similar gains have been made in the fields of osteopathic medicine and dentistry, where the most recent data indicate that 49.6 and 43.8 percent of students, respectively, were women compared to only 19.7 and 17.0 percent in 198081.

During the 200506 academic year, female students represented a growing majority in graduate schools of public health (70.6 percent). Similarly, the most recent data for social work programs indicate that 85.7 percent of enrolled students were female. Nursing, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, also continues to be dominated by women, although the proportion of students who are female is slowly declining. In the 198081 academic year, 94.3 percent of nursing students were female, while in the fall of 2005, females represented 90.7 percent of graduate students in nursing programs. Women also represent a majority of students studying optometry (63.1 percent), physical therapy (73.0 percent in 2004), and dietetics (90.8 percent; data not shown). Comparative data for these programs are not available for the 198081 academic year.


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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.