Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine:
Special Theme Research Report

Career Advancement for Women Faculty in a U.S. School of Medicine: Perceived Needs

McGuire, Lindsay K.; Bergen, Merlynn R. PhD; Polan, Mary Lake MD, PhD, MPH

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Purpose. The percentage of women faculty at the professor level has remained at approximately 11%. The medical community could benefit from knowing what is required to attract, retain, and advance women in the academy.

Method. The Committee on Women in Medicine and Science at Stanford University School of Medicine was charged with improving career success and well-being of women faculty. In 2001–02, a survey instrument including both needs and perceived school climate was sent to 309 women faculty. Responses were analyzed using one-way analyses of variance with Tukey follow-up tests.

Results. A total of 163 (53%) faculty responded. The highest ranked needs were a flexible work environment without negative consequences for women with young children (mean = 4.37 on a five-point scale); a three-month sabbatical from clinical and administrative duties (mean = 4.15); departmental mentoring for academic career development (mean = 4.13); and school/departmental administrative secretarial support for grant and manuscript preparation (mean = 4.11). Climate data obtained in 2002, compared to data from similar surveys in 1994 and 1995, showed a nonsignificant decrease in mean ratings for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and gender insensitivity in the intervening years. Mean ratings for positive climate and cohesion increased between 1994 and 1995 but remained stable from 1995 to 2002. Results of the survey were presented to the dean, faculty, and staff of the medical school.

Conclusion. Women faculty members were able to clearly indicate specific interventions that would improve their career success and sense of well-being. Since administrators are committed to serious consideration of these recommendations, this was a key step in advancing women's careers in academic medicine at Stanford.

© 2004 Association of American Medical Colleges


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