Networking practices and gender inequities in academic medicine: Women's and men's perspectives

EClinicalMedicine. 2022 Mar 13;45:101338. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101338. eCollection 2022 Mar.


Background: Studies of gender inequities in academic medicine suggest the negative impact of men's networking practices, but little is known about how they shape faculty experiences.

Methods: In this qualitative study, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 52 women and 52 men academic medicine faculty members at 16 institutions across the US in 2019. Interviews explored participants' experiences and perceptions of gender inequities in academic medicine, including perceptions of men's networking practices. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and transcripts were analyzed using a mixture of deductively and inductively generated codes.

Findings: Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts identified different dominant themes: (1) Women were often excluded from networking activities dominated by men, (2) Both women and men referred to men's networking practices in academic medicine, and believed they conferred benefits to members and excluded non-members from such benefits, (3) Participation in such networking activities yielded professional advantages, (4) Women made efforts to counteract their exclusion yet identified limits of those efforts.

Interpretation: The data suggests that gender inequities in academic medicine might be associated with professional interactions that occur outside of the scope of professional work practices and in formal work sites. Additional research is needed to better understand practices such as informal networking activities and their impact in order to promote gender equity.