Why don't more women rise to leadership positions in academic medicine?
Even as more women are pursuing careers in academic medicine, and now comprise 20% of full-time faculty in medical schools, they are not rising to senior leadership positions in similar numbers as men. The National Faculty Study evaluated the gender climate in academic medicine and identified several factors related to the current work environment that are contributing to this disparity, and these are described in an article in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
Coauthors Phyllis Carr, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA), Christine Gunn and Samantha Kaplan, MD, Boston University School of Medicine, Anita Raj, PhD, University of California, San Diego, and Karen Freund, MD, Tufts University School of Medicine (Boston, MA), found a lack of gender equality in the following areas: fewer women achieving leadership positions, disparities in salary, more women leaving academic medicine, and a disproportionate burden of family responsibilities and of balancing work and home life on women's career advancement. Better methods to track the careers of women and greater institutional oversight of the gender climate are needed, conclude the authors of the article "Inadequate Progress for Women in Academic Medicine: Findings from the National Faculty Study."
"Despite some progress in improving the climate for women in academic medicine, inequities persist that must be addressed," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.
"The powerful effect of innate bias has been documented. Its effect in the academic medicine sphere needs to be considered," says Rita R. Colwell, PhD, President of the Rosalind Franklin Society and Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.