An Integrated Framework for Gender Equity in Academic Medicine

Westring, Alyssa PhD; McDonald, Jennifer M.; Carr, Phyllis MD; Grisso, Jeane Ann MD, MSc

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001275

In 2008, the National Institutes of Health funded 14 R01 grants to study causal factors that promote and support women’s biomedical careers. The Research Partnership on Women in Biomedical Careers, a multi-institutional collaboration of the investigators, is one product of this initiative.

A comprehensive framework is needed to address change at many levels—department, institution, academic community, and beyond—and enable gender equity in the development of successful biomedical careers. The authors suggest four distinct but interrelated aspects of culture conducive to gender equity: equal access to resources and opportunities, minimizing unconscious gender bias, enhancing work–life balance, and leadership engagement. They review the collection of eight articles in this issue, which each address one or more of the four dimensions of culture. The articles suggest that improving mentor–mentee fit, coaching grant reviewers on unconscious bias, and providing equal compensation and adequate resources for career development will contribute positively to gender equity in academic medicine.

Academic medicine must adopt an integrated perspective on culture for women and acknowledge the multiple facets essential to gender equity. To effect change, culture must be addressed both within and beyond academic health centers (AHCs). Leaders within AHCs must examine their institutions’ processes, resources, and assessment for fairness and transparency; mobilize personnel and financial resources to implement evidence-based initiatives; and assign accountability for providing transparent progress assessments. Beyond AHCs, organizations must examine their operations and implement change to ensure parity of funding, research, and leadership opportunities as well as transparency of assessment and accreditation.

A. Westring is associate professor of management, Driehaus College of Business, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

J.M. McDonald is project manager, Research Partnership on Women in Biomedical Careers, and freelance editor, Alexandria, Virginia.

P. Carr is associate physician, Massachusetts General Hospital, and faculty member, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

J.A. Grisso is emeritus professor of medicine, public health, and nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funding/Support: This article was supported in part by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant (no. 564492) for the Research Partnership for Women in Biomedical Careers.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Alyssa Westring, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604; telephone: (312) 362-5239; e-mail:

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges