The interdisciplinary, multi-institutional study, Factors that Promote and Support the Careers of Women of Color in Academic Medicine, seeks to clarify the characteristics and interrelationships of institutional, individual and sociocultural factors that influence the entry, progression, persistence and advancement of women of color (WOC) (African American, Hispanic, Native American/Alaskan Native, and Asian American) faculty in academic medicine. While existing research has delineated several factors that act as barriers to the career progression of women or of minority faculty, data are not disaggregated in a manner that allows a specific understanding of the barriers or facilitators to the career advancement of WOC. For example, WOC remain disproportionately underrepresented among medical school faculty at the higher ranks of professor and associate professor when compared to white female faculty. Additionally, researchers have not explored differences in career paths among various WOC racial/ethnic groups. In 2007, one third of all medical school faculty were female, however, the percentage of WOC among all female faculty was only 23.1% and 9.3% for underrepresented minority faculty. The research will be conducted within the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science at the Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity and Community Partnership in collaboration with the Center for Gender in Organizations located at Simmons College School of Management. Twelve United States medical schools (including Puerto Rico) that vary on key institutional characteristics, including geographic location, size and structure, Research Center in Minority Institution status, percentage of women of color faculty, and research intensity, will participate in the proposed mixed methods research study. Each school has identified at least one individual to serve as the institutional liaison for the duration of the study.
The research aims are: 1) to characterize academic medical institutions in terms of institutional structure, mission, promotion and tenure policies and faculty supports, especially for women of color;2) to characterize individual, institutional and sociocultural factors that influence the entry, progression and persistence of women of color in academic medical careers;3) to determine the career trajectories, including the performance of WOC in academic medical careers;and 4) to elucidate the interplay between individual, institutional, and sociocultural factors as they relate to career outcomes. The study will include two complementary components: an institutional assessment that includes a review of documents and structured interviews with key administrative informants, and a faculty assessment composed of two parts - individual faculty interviews with WOC faculty and a web-based survey. Analysis will include basic descriptive statistics, as well as the use of hierarchical generalized linear models. The study will significantly contribute to an understanding of factors that are critical to the career progression and success of WOC in academic medicine, and serve as a basis for institutional decision making related to policies, practices and program design.

Public Health Relevance

The Factors that Promote and Support the Careers of Women of Color in Academic Medicine study will inform the development of new and/or adaptation of existing intervention strategies that will result in the persistence, progression and advancement of women faculty in academic medicine, particularly women of color faculty. The fact that this study involves multiple medical schools, as well as researchers from multiple disciplines such as business, social science, education and medicine, will enable the research team to design, implement and analyze the study in ways that will be useful to a broad constituency.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HOP-B (50))
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Harabin, Andrea L
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Harvard University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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