Purpose: To explore whether geographic mobility is associated with career advancement of women in U.S. medical schools who are entering mid- to executive-level positions.
Method: Using an existing dataset of 351 participants in academic medicine who attended the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women (1996–2005) (adjusted to 345 participants in some analyses because data on initial faculty rank were missing), the authors conducted a quantitative study in 2009 to determine whether geographic mobility was associated with administrative promotion for those who relocated geographically (from employer while attending ELAM to employer at last job of record).
Results: Twenty-four percent of women (83/345) relocated geographically (movers) after attending ELAM. Moving had a positive association with career advancement (P = .001); odds for promotion were 168% higher for movers than for stayers [odds ratio Exp(β) = 2.684]. Movers attained higher administrative positions (P = .003), and more movers (60%) were promoted at the most recent job compared with stayers (40%) (P = .0001). Few movers changed city size; 70% already resided in large or urban cities where most medical schools are located. Age was not a barrier to mobility. Career advancement was not related to research reputation (National Institutes of Health grant award ranking) of participants’ schools (either at time of attending ELAM or post-ELAM).
Conclusions: Similar to findings outside academic medicine, 24% of women classified as geographic “movers” among midcareer faculty in medical schools attained career advantages. Psychosocial and socioeconomic factors underlying women’s relocation decisions require additional study.