For the first time in 14 years, more women than men enrolled in Texas’ medical schools in fall 2017, an increase that reflects first-year enrollment figures nationwide.
But the numbers are almost dead even: Of the 2,050 first-year enrollees at the state’s 12 medical schools, 1,028 were women and 1,022 were men, the data show. This marks the third time women have matched or exceeded men among first-year enrollments since the Texas Medical Association began tracking enrollments in 1990.
Nationwide, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently reported more female than male first-year students in U.S. medical schools for the first time ever. Nationally, women made up 50.7 percent of the 21,338 new enrollees.
In Texas, females have averaged 46.8 percent of first-year enrollments over the past 10 years, the TMA data show. Women defied that trend twice – in 2003, when women made up 51.4 percent of enrollees, and in 2004, when men and women were tied.
Last year’s rise was the second straight increase for women in Texas. In 2016, 48.9 percent of first-time enrollees were women, up from 44.5 percent the previous year.
LaTanya J. Love, MD, vice president for diversity and leadership at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said it's impossible to tell if the recent increases predict a continued increase in future years. But she said medical schools have made more concerted efforts to recruit women.
"We do have a lot more female physician role models for students who might be thinking about a career in sciences and medicine," Dr. Love said. "I notice that there are more STEM programs that are targeted at girls starting at middle school, starting at high school, and I think that we're starting to see some of the benefits of programs like that."
For the first time in the past decade, slightly more females, 50.27 percent, than males actually applied to Texas medical schools in 2017, according to the most recent data on 11 of the state’s 12 schools from the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service. Applicant stats are not available for Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which uses AAMC’s American Medical College Application Service.