July 2018
Volume 59, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2018
Diversity in the Vision Research Community
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Charles Wright
    Office of the Scientific Director, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  • Neeraj Agarwal
    Office of the Scientific Director, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  • Cesar E Perez-Gonzalez
    Office of the Scientific Director, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  • David M Schneeweis
    Office of the Scientific Director, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Charles Wright, None; Neeraj Agarwal, None; Cesar Perez-Gonzalez, None; David Schneeweis, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2018, Vol.59, 6169. doi:
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      Charles Wright, Neeraj Agarwal, Cesar E Perez-Gonzalez, David M Schneeweis; Diversity in the Vision Research Community. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):6169.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : The vision research community affirms the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce, but the participation rates for women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) in basic science, optometry, and ophthalmology remain largely unknown. We decided to investigate the gender and racial/ethnic diversity of the vision community in comparison to both the general United States (US) population and other fields of study.

Methods : We analyzed publicly available data from the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Education, American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), and US Census Bureau, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We also analyzed National Eye Institute (NEI) F31, F32, K08, K23, K99, R01, and R21 award data with respect to gender.

Results : Women account for 55% of doctorate graduates from fields that participate in vision research in 2015 but make up only 35% of tenure-track faculty in ophthalmology departments, a percentage similar to other medical specialties. URMs constitute 32% of the total US population but make up only 14% of doctorate graduates in vision research-related fields and 4% of all ophthalmology faculty. Only 8% of medical school graduates aspiring to specialize in ophthalmology were URMs, a rate lower than other specialties on average. Among practicing ophthalmologists, only 6% of them are URMs, a lower rate than the average for other specialties. Women are also more poorly represented in ophthalmology compared to other specialties; women make up only 24% of practicing ophthalmologists in the US compared to 34% in other specialties on average. With respect to optometry, women make up 66% of optometry school graduates but only 35% of practicing optometrists. URMs, on the other hand, make up less than 9% of optometry school graduates and less than 5% of practicing optometrists. With regard to all the NEI awards analyzed, women investigators submit proposals at the same rate as men and have the same success rate as men. The disproportionately small number of NEI R01 awards going to women (26%) is similar to their representation among ophthalmology faculty.

Conclusions : This analysis confirms and quantifies the underrepresentation of women and URMs in vision-related training and career positions. Furthermore, these findings highlight the loss of women and URMs at career transition points and the need to develop practices and policies that reduce this loss.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.


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