Women’s Leadership in Academic Medicine: Insignificant Gains?

As a former researcher and administrator in academic medicine, Witt/Kieffer’s Joyce De Leo joined the executive search profession to fuel her passion to mentor women to apply for and succeed in leadership roles. In a recent article published by HigherEd Jobs, De Leo examines the progress of women’s leadership in academic medicine in relation to the ELAM program, which was developed to increase the number and influence of women leaders in academic medicine, as it anticipates its 25th anniversary.

Read the article in PDF format: Women’s Leadership in Academic Medicine: Insignificant Gains?

Joyce De Leo

While De Leo acknowledges that ELAM has become a tremendous resource for career networking and mentoring for its more than 1,000 graduates — herself included — the gender gap in academic medicine leadership continues to be concerning, with “only 15 percent of department chairs and 16 percent of all deans at U.S. medical schools” being women, despite the fact that “51 percent of incoming medical students were women in 2017.” De Leo offers insight into the challenges and factors, both internal and external, that may account for this gender gap, including personal decisions, professional implications, and macro considerations.

What can women and senior leaders do to promote gender gains? De Leo offers suggestions for women leaders, including encouraging them to “move out of their comfort zones . . . even if there may be disappointment.” For senior leaders, she urges them to “establish formal career development programs for all faculty with protected time to participate,” among other suggested solutions.

“Diversifying leadership provides new perspectives to improve processes, impact, and outcomes,” De Leo concludes. “Only when more women are placed in senior leadership roles will we see the balance of power shift and more women reaching these positions.”


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