Barriers to Advancement in Academic Medicine: the Perception Gap Between Majority Men and Other Faculty

Abstract

Background

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, women comprise 26% of full professors and 19% of medical school department chairs. African American and Latino faculty comprise 4.6% of full professors and 6.9% of department chairs.

Objective

Because of the lack of representation of women and racial/ethnic minority faculty at the highest levels of academic medicine, this study examines the perceptions of barriers to advancement by men and women academic medical school faculty of differing races and ethnicities to explore potential differences in perceptions by demographic group.

Design

Semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted between July and September 2017.

Participants

In order to give all faculty a chance to participate, faculty of all ranks and specialties were recruited from one southeastern medical school to participate in the study.

Approach

Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by 3 members of the research team using an inductive approach to thematic analysis. Participants were organized into 4 groups for analysis—underrepresented in medicine (URiM) women, majority women, URiM men, majority men.

Key Results

Sixty-four faculty consented to participate in the study (56.2% women, 34.4% URiM). Subthemes were grouped under three main themes: Perceptions of Barriers to Advancement of Women Faculty, Perceptions of Barriers to Advancement of African American and Latino Faculty, and Perceptions of the Institutional Climate for Diversity. Majority men tended to voice distinctly different perspectives than the other three demographic groups, with the most notable differences between majority men and URiM women. Majority  men tended to suggest that the advancement of women and URiM faculty was acceptable or getting better, the lack of URiM faculty in leadership was due mainly to pipeline issues, and women choose not to advance to leadership positions.

Conclusion

We found that participant gender and race/ethnicity shaped perspectives of medical school faculty advancement in distinct ways.

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Funding

This project was supported through an institutional grant from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lori Brand Bateman PhD.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board for Human Use at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), June 21, 2017, Protocol # 170524006.

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Previous Presentations

Bateman LB. Barriers to Advancement in Academic Medicine: A Qualitative Study of Differing Perceptions Based on Gender and Race/Ethnicity. Division of Preventive Medicine Grand Rounds, March 9, 2020, Birmingham, AL.

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Bateman LB, Heider L, Fouad MN. Barriers and Facilitators to Advancement of Underrepresented Minorities and Women in Academic Medicine: Differing Perceptions Based on Race/Ethnicity and Sex. Southern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, April 10–13, 2019, Atlanta, GA.

Bateman LB, Heider L, Jones E, Fouad MN. Barriers and Facilitators to the Advancement of Women in Academic Medicine: Differing Perspectives Based on Gender and Race/Ethnicity. 2019 Region 5 American Medical Women’s Association, February 15–16, 2019, Birmingham, AL.

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Bateman, L.B., Heider, L., Vickers, S.M. et al. Barriers to Advancement in Academic Medicine: the Perception Gap Between Majority Men and Other Faculty. J GEN INTERN MED (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-020-06515-5

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KEY WORDS

  • academic advancement
  • academic medicine
  • underrepresented in medicine
  • women