Objective: Despite the strong representation of female psychiatrists in residency and early-career positions, the number of female faculty sharply decreases in tenured or executive leadership positions. Why there exists a marked change in representation at the level of senior leadership within academic psychiatry is unclear. The authors investigated the causative factors contributing to this observation and gathered information about the personal characteristics of women in executive leadership roles. Methods: The authors surveyed psychiatry chairs at academic institutions. They identified all female chairs and randomly selected a group of male chairs to serve as a control group. The survey assessed perceived barriers, strengths, and weaknesses and differences in demographics and leadership styles between female and male chairs. Results: Ten percent of psychiatry chairs were female. Male chairs were more likely than female chairs to head large departments (p = 0.02, confidence interval (CI) -17.1-69.1) and had a higher H-index (p = 0.001, CI 6.6-37.2). Female chairs were more likely than male chairs to perceive barriers in their career development (p = 0.01, CI 0.7-2.2), citing little or no mentorship (p = 0.04), gender discrimination (p = 0.0001), and family obligations (p = 0.001) more often. Conclusion: Academic institutions must incorporate programs to decrease barriers and work to achieve equitable representation of women in upper-level leadership positions. Moreover, academic medicine must evolve to cultivate a family-friendly environment that successfully supports both genders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health