According to a recent study, women drop out of premed more than men. This is even the case when they are earning high grades in college and have high GPAs, just like their male peers.
So, why do men drop out less?
Researchers report that girls in high school have more interest in practicing medicine than their male counterparts. They also earn better grades than the boys and go to college after graduation at higher rates.
Wouldn’t that lead you to believe that more women complete premed programs and take the MCAT? Surprisingly, according to the published study related to gendered nature in the premed industry, this isn’t the case.
Studies Show Women Drop Out of Premed More Than Men
In a study conducted by University of Pittsburgh Professors, over 8,250 students’ academic records were scrutinized. Between 2008 and 2016, they had all enrolled in the university’s premed courses in the typical sequence.
The goal was to figure out whether or not women drop out of premed more than men do.
They determined that the women at this 4-year public university were definitely leaving the programs at higher rates than men, even when their grades were high.
An Association of American Medical Colleges study shows that both women and men enrolled in specific science courses related to premed at the same rate the first year in college. But some time during the second year, the gender gaps start appearing.
- Around 96% of men students who took Organic Chemistry I, moved on to Organic Chemistry II
- Only 89% of women students who took Organic Chemistry I, moved on to Organic Chemistry II
Generally, women who drop out of premed programs don’t do it because of academic performance. According to one of the authors of the study, Paulette Vincent-Ruz, there were other issues.
Even if they have the same achievement, they still have lower beliefs in their abilities, it creates this dynamic and makes them be less likely to continue, like, ‘Well, if I’m not great at this, why should I continue?’
Why Women Take the MCAT Less Than Men
The study also shows that during the later college years, gender discrepancies became even more prominent. This is especially true in the last year when it’s time to take the MCAT:
- About 65% of men students with A averages in premed science courses took the MCAT
- Only around 30% of women students with A averages in premed science courses took the MCAT
This is alarming since many more of the women originally planned to pursue medical careers than men:
- Of the 2,690 men reportedly in premed programs, 262 took the MCAT
- Of the 5,550 women reportedly in premed programs, 194 took the MCAT
Along with fellow researchers, Vincent-Ruz theorizes that many women students aren’t as confident about their abilities. This plays a major role in why women drop out of premed more than men.
Therefore, these ladies end up never going to med school.
What Can Be Done to Get More Women in Med Schools?
According to Vincent-Ruz, universities and colleges are not using the proper “messaging” when recruiting and teaching women in premed. Also, professors should get involved. They can help determine why women get discouraged and drop out of their premedical studies.
A good approach is to interview professional women in medicine. Finding out some of the obstacles they overcame to become healthcare professionals would help find better messaging to reach women in premed before they drop out.
Universities need to be doing interventions for professors and how the professors think about their students.
She says that some science faculty still look down on women. There’s also the untrue narrative that it takes a genius to become a doctor.
These are two more major factors that discourage women in premed from going on to practice medicine. Hopefully, something gets done soon so this problem gets solved.
Help for Women: Passing the MCAT
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