Advancing the Careers of Women: What ACP’s Female Leaders Think - Annals of Internal Medicine: Fresh Look Blog


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Advancing the Careers of Women: What ACP’s Female Leaders Think

Navigating a career in medicine is not easy for anyone, especially for women physicians. In medical school, we learn about pathophysiology and patient care. However, we do not always learn how to advance in our profession or the challenges we may face along the way. Working with a female-led team during my internal medicine rotations felt completely natural to me. However, it was not until I was in residency that I learned about the gender pay gap and how wide it is for women of color. I have been lucky that the American College of Physicians has been my medical home and has introduced me to a community of strong women. After Annals published the ACP position paper on gender equity in physician compensation and career advancement (1), a group of female leaders in ACP created a guide on how all of us, male and female, can impact gender equity in medicine.

Top 10 Things You Can Do to Impact Gender Equity in Medicine
  1. Advocate: Advocate for family, maternity, and paternity leave. Caregiving, whether of children or of parents, still primarily falls on women. Advocate for education that supports whole-woman care, including contraception and family planning. Advocate for inclusion of more women in clinical trials. Advocate for institutional requirements for hiring and promotion that address and fix inequities. Advocate for equal gender representation on search committees and in applicants. Advocate for recognition of all types of work, including committees, task forces, and comprehensive, complex patient care, and advocate for payment for all work.
  2. Amplify: Amplify the accomplishments of women. Give credit when it is due. Don’t take credit away from the woman who speaks up.
  3. Celebrate, Honor, and Support: Celebrate positive examples and experiences. Celebrate differences. Honor female leaders by promoting them to positions of leadership within your professional community and nominate them for deserving acknowledgments and awards. Find allies with influence. Be an ally with influence. Believe in yourself and in other women. Support each other. Support choices that may not always validate our own.
  4. Engage: Engage everyone, including leadership and men, to make gender equity a priority. Engage minority females to ensure we are looking out for all women—African American, Hispanic, Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Native American women, as well as LGTBQ and those with disabilities—whose pay gap and leadership gap issues are worse. Demand prompt and nonretaliatory corrective actions in response to gender bias, harassment, or discrimination. Insist on gender pay equity.
  5. Help: Offer to help. Be available. Offer opportunities. Help make connections. Write letters of support and recommendation that overcome gendered language and expectations. Teach negotiation skills. Help by urging women who are busy but uninvolved professionals to join organized medicine in this fight.
  6. Measure: Make measurement a priority. Insist that institutions include markers to address leadership and pay gaps. Make sure these measurements include underrepresented minorities.
  7. Mentor: Be a mentor and look for mentors.
  8. Promote: Promote practices that push away biases and create more equity. Use gender-neutral language in position descriptions, conversations, evaluations, and promotion criteria. Promote diversity and inclusion for search committees, task forces, and standing committees. Promote gender inequity awareness at meetings by making it an agenda item.
  9. Respect: Respect the person—regardless of gender, cultural, or other identity. Respect the role that the physician has in your organization and/or wants to have. Respect one’s ideology.
  10. Share and Solicit: Share what makes you successful, share what you know. Share unwritten rules and unspoken knowledge. Solicit female role models to visit your institutions.

Note: Top 10 organized by Dr. Susan Hingle. Contributors to the list: Darilyn Moyer, Christine Laine, Susan Hingle, Fatima Syed, Janet Jokela, Donna Seminara, Maria Carney, Rebecca Andrews, Davoren Chick, Lynn Cleary, Eileen Barrett, Carrie Horwitch, Marianne Parshley, Ana Maria Lopez, Mary Parsons, Sarah Candler, Elisa Choi, Suja Mathew, Irene Hramiak, Tabassum Salam, Betty Chang, and Patricia Sadler.

  1. Butkus R, Serchen J, Moyer DV, Bornstein SS, Hingle ST; Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians. Achieving gender equity in physician compensation and career advancement: a position paper of the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168:721-3. [PMID: 29710100] doi:10.7326/M17-3438

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