Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Diversity of physicians in leadership and academic positions in Alberta: a cross-sectional survey
  1. Shannon M Ruzycki1,2,
  2. Pamela Roach3,
  3. Sofia B Ahmed1,2,
  4. Cheryl Barnabe1,2,
  5. Jayna Holroyd-Leduc1,2
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3 Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shannon M Ruzycki, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada; shannon.ruzycki{at}


Background Efforts to reduce barriers and disparities faced by marginalised physicians are limited by a lack of data on the current diversity of the Canadian physician workforce. We aimed to characterise the diversity of the Albertan physician workforce.

Methods This cross-sectional survey, open to all Albertan physicians from 1 September 2020 to 6 October 2021, measured the proportion of physicians from traditionally under-represented groups, including those with diverse gender identities, disabilities and from racial minorities.

Results There were 1087 respondents (9.3% response rate); of whom 33.4% identified as cisgender men (n=363), 46.8% as cisgender women (n=509) and less than 3% as gender diverse. Fewer than 5% were members of the LGBTQI2S+community. Half were white (n=547), 4.6% were black (n=50) and fewer than 3% were Indigenous or Latinx. Over one-third reported a disability (n=368, 33.9%). There were 303 white cisgender women (27.9%), 189 white cisgender men (17.4%), 136 black, Indigenous or person of colour (BIPOC) cisgender men (12.5%) and 151 BIPOC cisgender women (13.9%). Compared with BIPOC physicians, white participants were over-represented in leadership positions (64.2% and 32.1%; p=0.06) and academic roles (78.7% and 66.9%; p<0.01). Cisgender women had less often applied for academic promotion than cisgender men (85.4% and 78.3%, respectively, p=0.01), and BIPOC physicians had been denied promotion more frequently (7.7% compared with 4.4%; p=0.47).

Conclusion Many Albertan physicians may experience marginalisation through at least one protected characteristic. There were race-based and gender-based differences in experiences of medical leadership and academic promotion which may explain observed disparities in these positions. To increase diversity and representation in medicine, medical organisations should focus on inclusive cultures and environments. Universities should focus efforts on supporting BIPOC physicians, especially BIPOC cisgender women, in applying for promotion.

  • career
  • clinical leadership
  • medical leadership

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Select data are available upon reasonable request - as providing all the data would be identifying.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Select data are available upon reasonable request - as providing all the data would be identifying.

View Full Text


  • Twitter @ShannonRuzycki

  • Contributors SMR, CB, SBA, JH-L and PR contributed to the planning, design, conduct, reporting and editing of the final draft of this project. SMR and PR performed the data analysis. SMR and JH-L wrote the first draft of the manuscript. SMR is responsible and the guarantor for the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.