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      Women in Academic Medicine Leadership : Has Anything Changed in 25 Years?

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          Abstract

          Over the past 25 years, the number of women graduating from medical schools in the United States and Canada has increased dramatically to the point where roughly equal numbers of men and women are graduating each year. Despite this growth, women continue to face challenges in moving into academic leadership positions. In this Commentary, the authors share lessons learned from their own careers relevant to women's careers in academic medicine, including aspects of leadership, recruitment, editorship, promotion, and work-life balance. They provide brief synopses of current literature on the personal and social forces that affect women's participation in academic leadership roles. They are persuaded that a deeper understanding of these realities can help create an environment in academic medicine that is generally more supportive of women's participation, and that specifically encourages women in medicine to take on academic leadership positions.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Stories from early-career women physicians who have left academic medicine: a qualitative study at a single institution.

          The number of women in academic medicine has steadily increased, although gender parity still does not exist and women leave academics at somewhat higher rates than men. The authors investigated the reasons why women leave careers in academic medicine. Semistructured, one-on-one interviews were conducted in 2007-2008 with 20 women physicians who had left a single academic institution to explore their reasons for opting out of academic careers. Data analysis was iterative, and an editing analysis style was used to derive themes. A lack of role models for combining career and family responsibilities, frustrations with research (funding difficulties, poor mentorship, competition), work-life balance, and the institutional environment (described as noncollaborative and biased in favor of male faculty) emerged as key factors associated with a decision to leave academic medicine for respondents. Faced with these challenges, respondents reevaluated their priorities and concluded that a discrepancy existed between their own and institutional priorities. Many respondents expressed divergent views with the institutional norms on how to measure success and, as a consequence, felt that they were undervalued at work. Participants report a disconnection between their own priorities and those of the dominant culture in academic medicine. Efforts to retain women faculty in academic medicine may include exploring the aspects of an academic career that they value most and providing support and recognition accordingly.
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            Sponsorship: a path to the academic medicine C-suite for women faculty?

            Despite increases in the percentages of women medical school graduates and faculty over the past decade, women physicians and scientists remain underrepresented in academic medicine's highest-level executive positions, known as the "C-suite." The challenges of today and the future require novel approaches and solutions that depend on having diverse leaders. Such diversity has been widely shown to be critical to creating initiatives and solving complex problems such as those facing academic medicine and science. However, neither formal mentoring programs focused on individual career development nor executive coaching programs focused on individual job performance have led to substantial increases in the proportion of women in academic medicine's top leadership positions.Faced with a similar dilemma, the corporate world has initiated sponsorship programs designed to accelerate the careers of women as leaders. Sponsors differ from mentors and coaches in one key area: They have the position and power to advocate publicly for the advancement of nascent talent, including women, in the organization. Although academic medicine differs from the corporate world, the strong sponsorship programs that have advanced women into corporations' upper levels of leadership can serve as models for sponsorship programs to launch new leaders in academic medicine.
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              Women in academic medicine. Combining career and family.

              We conducted a national survey to explore how women in academic medicine balance career and family responsibilities. A questionnaire was mailed to all women 50 years of age and under who held full-time appointments in departments of medicine (n = 862), as listed in the faculty roster of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The survey included questions about childbearing and child rearing, attitudes about personal and professional issues, and role models. Of the 694 questionnaires that were delivered, over 80 percent were completed (n = 558). The mean age of the respondents was 38.1 years, and 63 percent had children. The 350 mothers had a mean of 1.9 children; only 3 had 4 or more children. Approximately half the respondents with children had their first child after completing medical training (mean age, 30.6 years), and they were absent from work for a median of 6 weeks post partum; 72 percent took no time off before labor and delivery, and 83 percent were back at work within 12 weeks. The majority were satisfied with their decision to have children and with their careers, despite the fact that 78 percent believed that their career progress had been slowed or markedly slowed by their having had children. We conclude that it is possible for women to combine motherhood with a fulfilling career in academic medicine, but it is difficult, and most such women believe that motherhood slows the progress of their careers.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Academic Medicine
                Academic Medicine
                Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
                1040-2446
                2016
                August 2016
                : 91
                : 8
                : 1053-1056
                Article
                10.1097/ACM.0000000000001281
                27306972
                © 2016

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