Where is the leak in the pipeline? Investigating gender differences in academic promotion at an academic medical centre

Perspect Med Educ. 2016 Apr;5(2):125-8. doi: 10.1007/s40037-016-0263-7.


Background: Women are still under-represented in the senior ranks of academic medicine. As local surveys represent a critical initial step in addressing the challenges of gender disparities in academic promotion within institutions, we surveyed faculty at an academic medical centre to identify factors to improve the academic advancement of women.

Methods: We conducted an electronic survey of all full-time faculty members in a Department of Medicine assessing academic rank and factors important in consideration for promotion.

Results: 106 faculty members (46 %) responded to the survey; 40 % of the respondents were women. There was a statistically significant gender gap in faculty rank (p = 0.002), with only 2 of 17 full professor positions occupied by women. Among faculty who had not yet requested promotion, women were more likely to report that they did not think an academic promotion would benefit them (69 vs. 32 % in men, p = 0.01), and to report a lack of encouragement for requesting promotion (50 vs. 29 %, p = 0.08).

Conclusions: Targeting the perceived value of academic promotion among women faculty, increasing junior faculty mentorship and modifying annual review processes could address gender disparities in academic medicine ranks.

Keywords: Academic promotion; Faculty development; Gender; Mentorship.