Letters to the Editor
We wholeheartedly agree with the call by Arora and Galanos for innovative solutions to the problem of gender disparity in academic medicine. They are correct that the problem is complex, long-standing, and does not appear to be rapidly changing.
We also agree that women need both effective mentors to provide hands-on guidance with career development and also positive role models to inspire and lead by example. Considerable research has examined the attributes and impact of mentors and role models in medicine1 and suggests that the two are distinct.2 In settings where there are few gender-concordant mentors and role models, peer mentoring is a creative solution.3 This approach emphasizes collaboration among teams of individuals with shared career goals, which may be particularly appealing to women, who appear to value a collaborative work style.4
In addition to bolstering mentoring, role modeling, and other support for women, we recommend that institutions consider appropriate measures for the recognition and selection of leaders in medicine. Since traditional measures may not align with every individual's goals, personal values, motivations, or career trajectory,5,6 broadening the way accomplishments are recognized and individuals are rewarded may enhance the ability of both women and men to maximally contribute to institutions and the profession.
Darcy A. Reed, MD, MPH
Assistant professor of medicine, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine,
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota;
Keith D. Lindor, MD
Professor of medicine and dean, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine,
1 Humphrey HJ, ed. Mentoring in Academic Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: ACP Press; 2010.
2 Levinson W, Kaufman K, Clark B, Tolle SW. Mentors and role models for women in academic medicine. West J Med. 1991;154:423–426.
3 Files JA, Blair JE, Mayer AP, Ko MG. Facilitated peer mentorship: A pilot program for academic advancement of female medical faculty. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008;17:1009–1015.
5 Wright SM, Beasley BW. Motivating factors for academic physicians within departments of medicine. Mayo Clin Proc. 2004;79:1145–1150.
6 Pololi L, Kern DE, Carr P, Conrad P, Knight S. The culture of academic medicine: Faculty perceptions of the lack of alignment between individual and institutional values. J Gen Intern Med. 2009;24:1289–1295.