Career development for women in academic medicine: Multiple interventions in a department of medicine

JAMA. 1996 Sep 18;276(11):898-905.


Objective: To determine the gender-based career obstacles for women in an academic department of medicine and to report the interventions to correct such obstacles (resulting from the evaluation) and the results of these interventions.

Design: Intervention study, before-after trial, with assessment of faculty concerns and perceived change through structured, self-administered questionnaires.

Setting: The Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.

Participants: Full-time faculty.

Interventions: Multifaceted intervention from 1990 through 1995 to correct gender-based career obstacles reported by women faculty, including problem identification, leadership, and education of faculty, and interventions to improve faculty development, mentoring, and rewards and to reduce isolation and structural career impediments.

Main outcome measures: Retention and promotion of deserving women faculty, salary equity, quality of mentoring, decreased isolation from information and colleagues, integration of women faculty into the scientific community, and decreased manifestations of gender bias.

Results: Junior women were retained and promoted, reversing previous experience, with a 550% increase in the number of women at the associate professor rank over 5 years (from 4 in 1990 to 26 in 1995). Interim 3-year follow-up showed a 183% increase in the proportion of women faculty who expected they would still be in academic medicine in 10 years (from 23% [7/30] in 1990 to 65% [30/46] in 1993). One half to two thirds of women faculty reported improvements in timeliness of promotions, manifestations of gender bias, access to information needed for faculty development, isolation, and salary equity. Men also reported improvements in these areas.

Conclusions: The outcomes reported here indicate that it is possible to make substantive improvements in the development of women's careers, that an institutional strategy to this end can be successful in retaining women in academic medicine, and that such interventions are likely to benefit all faculty. Long-term interventions appear essential.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Career Mobility*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States