Culture Matters: The Pivotal Role of Culture for Womens Careers in Academic Medicine

Westring, Alyssa Friede PhD; Speck, Rebecca M. PhD, MPH; Dupuis Sammel, Mary ScD; Scott, Patricia; Conant, Emily F. MD; Tuton, Lucy Wolf PhD; Abbuhl, Stephanie B. MD; Grisso, Jeane Ann MD, MSc

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000173
Research Reports
Abstract

Purpose: Women in academic medicine are not achieving the same career advancement as men, and face unique challenges in managing work and family alongside intense work demands. The purpose of this study was to investigate how a supportive department/division culture buffered women from the impact of work demands on work-to-family conflict.

Method: As part of a larger intervention trial, the authors collected baseline survey data from 133 women assistant professors at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in 2010. Validated measures of work demands, work-to-family conflict, and a department/division culture were employed. Pearson correlations and general linear mixed modeling were used to analyze the data. Authors investigated whether work culture moderated the association between work demands and work-to-family conflict.

Results: Heavy work demands were associated with increased levels of work-to-family conflict. There were significant interactions between work demands, work-to-family conflict, and department/division culture. A culture conducive to women’s academic success significantly moderated the effect of work hours on time-based work-to-family conflict and significantly moderated the effect of work overload on strain-based work-to-family conflict. At equivalent levels of work demands, women in more supportive cultures experienced lower levels of work-to-family conflict.

Conclusions: The culture of the department/division plays a crucial role in women’s work-to-family conflict and can exacerbate or alleviate the impact of extremely high work demands. This finding leads to important insights about strategies for more effectively supporting the careers of women assistant professors.

Author Information

Dr. Westring is assistant professor, Department of Management, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Speck is instructor, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Sammel is professor of biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Scott is director of operations, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Conant is professor, Department of Radiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Tuton is adjunct professor of medicine and adjunct professor of prevention and population health, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Abbuhl is professor, Department of Emergency Medicine and Executive Director of FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Grisso is professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine, and Department of Family and Community Health, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funding/Support: This research was funded by the National Institutions of Health (grant no. R01-NS069793-03).

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Ethical approval for this project was granted by the University of Pennsylvania institutional review board.

Previous presentations: An earlier version of this report was presented at the meeting of the Work and Family Researchers Network, New York, New York, June 15, 2012.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Westring, Department of Management, DePaul University, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60605; telephone: (312) 362-5239; fax: (312) 362-6973; e-mail: awestrin@depaul.edu.

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges