The Importance of Mentorship for Women and Doctors of Color

Mentorship can play a key role in enhancing careers, and this is especially important in the field of science and healthcare where women and doctors of color are underrepresented. Ideally, mentors provide guidance and support for mentees in accomplishing career advancements.

According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR), women have made up at least 40% of medical students, yet they make up only 34% of physicians; women account for only 18% of hospital CEOs. There are many gender disparities in the field of medicine, and women do not achieve promotions or advancement to leadership positions at the same rate as their male counterparts.

Minorities Receive Less Mentoring

Studies have shown that underrepresented minorities (URM) typically receive less mentoring than their non-minority peers. Mentoring programs designed to address unique challenges faced by URM’s are critically needed. These challenges include marginalization, overt and covert racism, and a disproportionate share of activities that do not advance careers. Unfortunately, URM’s are often either unaware of the significance of mentorship and how it can kickstart their careers, or cannot find mentors committed to their career success.

What is the solution to reach gender or racial parity in the field of medicine?

There must be implicit bias training to help address gender or racial based prejudice.

Improved mentorship, sponsorship, and targeted funding for women and doctors of color, including creating formal networking programs to help identify potential mentors.

If healthcare leaders want to retain a diverse workforce, to provide better patient care and human health, the implementation of structural policies, including mentorship programs, to help these underrepresented groups thrive in the field of medicine is a starting point.