Intended for healthcare professionals


Number of women entering medical school rises after decade of decline

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 25 January 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k254
  1. Tom Moberly, UK editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. tmoberly{at}

The number of women choosing a career in medicine has begun to rise after a decade of decline, data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England show.

Since 1996-97, more women than men have entered medical school. The number of women entering medical school increased steadily between 1996-97 and 2003-04. It rose from 2582 in 1996-97, when women represented 53.4% of those entering medical school, to 4593 in 2003-04, when they represented 60.9% of entrants.

However, over the following decade, between 2003-04 and 2013-14, the number of women entering medical school fluctuated year to year. It reached a high of 4768 in 2004-05, when they represented 60.5% of people entering medical school, before gradually declining to 4140 in 2013-14, when they represented 54.8% of entrants.

Over the two years after 2013-14, the number of women entering medical school rose again, to 4240 in 2015-16, representing 56.4% of those entering medical school that year, the latest period for which these data are available.

Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show that across the UK 59.0% of those accepted to medical school in 2017 were women, compared with 56.7% of those accepted across all subjects.

Women outnumber men on a number of other university courses, including biology, education, history, languages, and law, and as a total across all subjects. But men outnumber women among those studying architecture, business, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics.

Proportion of women in different subjects

  • Education 86.2%

  • Law 67.4%

  • Medicine 59.0%

  • Business 47.8%

  • Mathematics 36.3%

  • Engineering 17.0%