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Reducing Implicit Gender Leadership Bias in Academic Medicine With an Educational Intervention

Girod, Sabine MD, DDS, PhD; Fassiotto, Magali PhD; Grewal, Daisy PhD; Ku, Manwai Candy PhD; Sriram, Natarajan PhD; Nosek, Brian A. PhD; Valantine, Hannah MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001099
Research Reports

Purpose One challenge academic health centers face is to advance female faculty to leadership positions and retain them there in numbers equal to men, especially given the equal representation of women and men among graduates of medicine and biological sciences over the last 10 years. The purpose of this study is to investigate the explicit and implicit biases favoring men as leaders, among both men and women faculty, and to assess whether these attitudes change following an educational intervention.

Method The authors used a standardized, 20-minute educational intervention to educate faculty about implicit biases and strategies for overcoming them. Next, they assessed the effect of this intervention. From March 2012 through April 2013, 281 faculty members participated in the intervention across 13 of 18 clinical departments.

Results The study assessed faculty members’ perceptions of bias as well as their explicit and implicit attitudes toward gender and leadership. Results indicated that the intervention significantly changed all faculty members’ perceptions of bias (P < .05 across all eight measures). Although, as expected, explicit biases did not change following the intervention, the intervention did have a small but significant positive effect on the implicit biases surrounding women and leadership of all participants regardless of age or gender (P = .008).

Conclusions These results suggest that providing education on bias and strategies for reducing it can serve as an important step toward reducing gender bias in academic medicine and, ultimately, promoting institutional change, specifically the promoting of women to higher ranks.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

S. Girod is associate professor, Department of Surgery and, by courtesy, Department of Otolaryngology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.

M. Fassiotto is director of programs and research, Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.

D. Grewal is assessment and program evaluation analyst, Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

M.C. Ku is research program manager, Apple Inc., Cupertino, California.

N. Sriram is founder of Implisci, Charlottesville, Virginia.

B.A. Nosek is professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, and executive director, Center for Open Science, Charlottesville, Virginia.

H. Valantine is chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. This work was conducted while H. Valantine was at Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Funding/Support: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award 1UL1 RR025744-01 and the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pathfinder Award (1DP4GM096849-01).

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Previous presentations: M. Fassiotto presented findings from Recruitment to Expand Diversity and Excellence at the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Faculty Affairs Professional Development Conference, July 19, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to Hannah Valantine, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, 300 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20850; telephone: (650) 724-0239; e-mail:

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges