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Search Winter 2013

Making Progress Real

By: Myron Weisfeldt, M.D.
Date: January 1, 2013


One of the biggest issues we have faced is making sure that the large number of assistant professors in our department progress in academic rank, research achievements and leadership—and to make sure they are satisfied with their support and experience along the way.

Let’s highlight our work in academic advancement for women. In 2001, women made up 37 percent of assistant professors, 20 percent of associate professors and 12 percent of full professors. It takes a good five to eight years for most assistant professors to be promoted to the next level, and we are making great strides in helping them progress.

I’m pleased to note that women now constitute 47 percent of assistant professors, 40 percent of associate professors and 21 percent of full professors. Our faculty has increased in size during this time period, from 89 to 120 associate professors and from 74 to 110 full professors, and the number of women in that group is very substantial.

A large credit for this goes to the Task Force on Women’s Academic Careers in Medicine, which has been led by Jeanne Clark, and now Rachel Levine. Jeanne and her colleagues have done a tremendous job in mentoring women faculty starting as early as fellowship. We don’t emphasize that women should always be mentored by other women. The key is identifying the right mentor with the right approach to seeing them follow a career path toward becoming national leaders. 

Levine says the task force is “changing the culture in a way that supports not only women but all faculty to reach their full potential.”

“For many women, the jump from assistant professor to associate professor is the most difficult,” she says. “That’s what we are focusing on now.” The plan includes equipping  assistant professors with skills they need to advance, ensuring access to appropriate mentors, promoting family-friendly practices and increasing the visibility of women faculty by holding an annual task force dinner. 

They also are looking to expand mentoring for fellows and develop more women leaders in the department.