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The changing face of medicine

Steve Zylius / University Communications
Females will outnumber males by 15 percent in the 2013-2014 first-year class at UC Irvine School of Medicine

In the 2013-2014 class, females outnumber males significantly

UC Irvine School of Medicine is about to make history.

The 2013-2014 first-year medical school class will include the largest number of women ever; they will outnumber men by approximately 15 per cent. This is the first time since the school’s founding in 1896 that the gap between male and female has been this large.

The numbers are official; the class includes 64 woman and 44 men, says Ellena M. Peterson, PhD, associate dean, Admissions and Outreach.

"The majority of our new class will be females, and they’ll outnumber males by a significant number.”

Women have made steady gains over the years at UC Irvine School of Medicine. For the most part, their progress has mirrored that of American women in medicine, who have made great strides since 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a U.S. medical degree.


Since 1982-1983, the total number of women entering U.S. medical schools has increased every year. Women went from less than a third of all medical students in 1982-1983 to 47 percent of all students in 2011-2012, according to statistics compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Similarly, the number of women applying to UC Irvine’s medical school has increased over the years, as has the number of applicants overall.  This year, 5,769 aspiring doctors applied for the 104 positions available; last year 5,372 applied.

Applicants wind their way through a long acceptance process, which includes multiple interviews. This year, more males than females were chosen to begin the interview process here, but females still managed to win acceptance at a greater rate.

“Women seem to be faring better in one-to-one interviews,” said Peterson, adding that they may be better at presenting themselves and answering questions.

The new class of medical students will begin school July 31st and the traditional White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 2nd will symbolically mark the beginning of their medical career. 

The students come from over 40 different undergraduate institutions throughout the US. It will be a diverse group that will include published authors, a female U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a composer and two PhDs.  Peterson said there will also be several athletes, adding that the discipline, dedication and teamwork athletes develop will help them as they pursue careers in medicine. 

Peterson, who has overseen Admissions for 12 years, is proud of the diversity of the group. “With 104 individuals, we have our own community: musicians, artists, poets, people who grew up in different geographical locations and in different cultures. 

“It’s a treasure chest of talent where everyone in the community can learn from one another.”

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