Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 1928–1935 | Cite as

The Pipeline Still Leaks and More Than You Think: A Status Report on Gender Diversity in Biomedical Engineering

  • Naomi C. CheslerEmail author
  • Gilda Barabino
  • Sangeeta N. Bhatia
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum


While the percentage of women in biomedical engineering is higher than in many other technical fields, it is far from being in proportion to the US population. The decrease in the proportion of women and underrepresented minorities in biomedical engineering from the bachelors to the masters to the doctoral levels is evidence of a still leaky pipeline in our discipline. In addition, the percentage of women faculty members at the assistant, associate and full professor levels remain disappointingly low even after years of improved recruitment of women into biomedical engineering at the undergraduate level. Worse, the percentage of women graduating with undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering has been decreasing nationwide for the most recent three year span for which national data are available. Increasing diversity in biomedical engineering is predicted to have significant research and educational benefits. The barriers to women’s success in biomedical engineering and strategies for overcoming these obstacles—and fixing the leaks in the pipeline—are reviewed.


Women Engineering Barriers Bias 



The authors would like to acknowledge the BMES leadership for their support of diversity and equity initiatives.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi C. Chesler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gilda Barabino
    • 2
  • Sangeeta N. Bhatia
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rebecca Richards-Kortum
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Health Sciences and Technology/Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Howard Hughes Medical InstituteAshburnUSA
  5. 5.Department of BioengineeringRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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