The Women in Medicine and Health Science program: an innovative initiative to support female faculty at the University of California Davis School of Medicine

Acad Med. 2014 Nov;89(11):1462-6. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000403.


Problem: Although more female physicians and scientists are choosing careers in academic medicine, women continue to be underrepresented as medical school faculty, particularly at the level of full professor and in leadership positions. Effective interventions to support women in academic medicine exist, but the nature and content of such programs varies widely.

Approach: Women in medicine programs can play a critical role in supporting women's careers and can improve recruitment and retention of women by providing opportunities for networking, sponsorship, mentorship, and career development. The University of California Davis School of Medicine established the Women in Medicine and Health Science (WIMHS) program in 2000 to ensure the full participation and success of women in all roles within academic medicine. The authors describe the components and evolution of the WIMHS program.

Outcomes: A steady increase in the number and percentage of female faculty and department chairs, as well as a relatively low departure rate for female faculty, strong and growing internal partnerships, and enthusiastic support from faculty and the school of medicine leadership, suggest that the WIMHS program has had a positive influence on recruitment and retention, career satisfaction, and institutional climate to provide a more inclusive and supportive culture for women.

Next steps: Going forward, the WIMHS program will continue to advocate for broader institutional change to support female faculty, like creating an on-site child care program. Other institutions seeking to address the challenges facing female faculty may consider using the WIMHS program as a model to guide their efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration
  • California
  • Career Choice
  • Faculty, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Mentors
  • Needs Assessment
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*