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Despite Calls for Diversity, Lasker Award Winners Remain Overwhelmingly Male, Study Finds

Despite an increase in the presence of women in academic medicine and biomedical research, the number of those who have won the Lasker Award has not changed in more than 70 years, according to a study appearing this week in The BMJ. The Lasker Awards were created in 1945 to highlight biological discoveries and clinical advances in medicine, and since then the Lasker Foundation that grants the prize has promoted the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as advocated for women in science and medicine. To determine if inequities continue to persist, investigators from various institutions including Yale University and Harvard Medical School reviewed the award's 397 winners since 1946 and find that 92 percent were men, most of whom identified as white, and that the proportion of women among award recipients in the most recent decade does not differ from the first decade of awards. Further, only one non-white women has ever received a Lasker Award. Tellingly, of the 12 female Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine, four have not received a Lasker Award. "Researchers and advocates must hold organizations responsible for outcomes because our findings highlight that simply publicizing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives does not necessarily guarantee change or equitable practice," the study's authors write.

The Scan

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