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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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

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Correspondence to Naomi C. Chesler.

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Associate Editor Julia E. Babensee oversaw the review of this article.

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Chesler, N.C., Barabino, G., Bhatia, S.N. et al. The Pipeline Still Leaks and More Than You Think: A Status Report on Gender Diversity in Biomedical Engineering. Ann Biomed Eng 38, 1928–1935 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-010-9958-9

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Keywords

  • Women
  • Engineering
  • Barriers
  • Bias