Sneak Peek from the October Issue: Academic Medicine’s Gender Leadership Gap

Later this month, Academic Medicine will post the published ahead-of-print articles from the October 2013 issue. To tide you over until then, here’s a preview of a commentary from Hannah Valantine, MD and Christy I. Sanborg, MD:

Changing the Culture of Academic Medicine to Eliminate the Gender Leadership Gap: 50/50 by 2020

Hannah Valantine, MD, and Christy I. Sandborg, MD


Central to the daily struggles that successful working women face is the misalignment of the current work culture and the values of the workforce. In addition to contributing to work–life integration conflicts, this disconnect also perpetuates the gender leadership gap. The dearth of women at the highest ranks of academic medicine not only sends a clear message to women that they must choose between career advancement and their personal life but also represents a loss of talent for academic health centers as they fail to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. To close the gender leadership gap and to meet the needs of the next generation of physicians, scientists, and educators, the authors argue that the culture of academic medicine must change to one in which flexibility and work–life integration are core parts of the definition of success. Faculty must see flexibility policies, such as tenure clock extensions and parental leaves, as career advancing rather than career limiting. To achieve these goals, the authors describe the Stanford University School of Medicine Academic Biomedical Career Customization (ABCC) model. This framework includes individualized career plans, which span a faculty member’s career, with options to flex up or down in research, patient care, administration, and teaching, and mentoring discussions, which ensure that faculty take full advantage of the existing policies designed to make career customization possible. The authors argue that with vision, determination, and focus, the academic medicine community can eliminate the gender leadership gap to achieve 50/50 by 2020.

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One Comment

  1. Kemi Tomobi
    August 16, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    This is a very relevant topic concerning diversity and equity, whether the field is orthopedic surgery, general pediatrics, or even OB/GYN.  EAch specialty attracts different female leaders in different percentages.  I think medical schools are doing a great job of recruiting females in higher education, thus promoting diversity and equity in higher education, particularly medical education.  The medical school classes are gender balanced.  The question is – what happens in residency and beyond to recruit talented females to the field of academia?  Also, is academia not the preferred field for females (as opposed to private practice, where hours are less controllable)?  I do agree that the plans that allow for more flexibility and more personalized and individualized career plans will attract more females to the field.  I also agree with what is needed to meet the equity goal.  I look forward to more on this discussion.


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