Locked out of opportunity

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Minority ethnic groups, including African Americans and Hispanics, continue to be under-represented in biomedical-research faculties at US medical schools, according to a study last year (L. C. Meyers et al. PLoS ONE 13, e0190606; 2018). Based on publicly available national data, the study of under-represented minority populations finds that their numbers and proportions rose steadily from 2000 to 2013 at every academic career stage except the final step, from postdoctoral researcher to tenure-track faculty member. Minority ethnic and racial groups comprise just 3–4% of full-time medical-school faculty members. “We should be seeing increases in under-represented minorities in faculty positions at top-tier research institutions,” says study co-author Roger Chalkley, a senior associate dean at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. “But they are not getting those jobs.” Chalkley says that he and his co-authors cannot yet identify barriers. He theorizes that reluctance to apply for those positions, along with discrimination, might play a part.