Improving Health Through Medical Physics

The Importance of Diversity in Medical Physics

Jennifer Pursley | PhD, Boston, MA and Laura Cervino, PhD | San Diego, CA

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 44 No. 3 — May | June 2019

One of the recently approved strategic goals for the AAPM was to champion equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the field of medical physics. An initial step is to understand the importance of diversity and the negative impacts of a lack of diversity and harmful stereotypes or biases. As physicists, we rely on data to guide our understanding and responses. There is a wealth of data in recent publications on the continued evidence of gender bias and stereotypes in medical physics, and the potential or measurable impact on the field. Some of the available data and publications include:

Picture of Jennifer Pursley Jennifer Pursley
Picture of Laura Cervino Laura Cervino
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Similar work exists for women physicians; women have historically been underrepresented as physicians. While that is changing across medicine with more women than men enrolled in US medical schools now, there is evidence that a gender gap still exists in radiation oncology, a traditionally male-dominated specialty. Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, from University of Michigan, has been very active in this area and with her colleagues has contributed to much work on this topic including the following publications:

The proponents of the EDI strategic goal are considering these and similar works in evaluating the necessity of increased EDI awareness and measurable benefits from increasing diversity in the field of medical physics.

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