Gender Differences in Retention and Promotion Among Generalists Who Graduated From Research-Intensive Fellowships

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Generalists who pursue research-intensive fellowships develop research skills and mentor-mentee relationships. Whether gender disparities in retention and promotion exist among this research-trained cohort is understudied.

Objective: We measured whether disparities exist among graduates of research-intensive fellowships and how mentorship influences them.

Methods: We surveyed generalists (internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, combined internal medicine-pediatrics) between July and August 2016 who graduated from research-intensive fellowships. Generalists ("mentees") were asked whether they remained or were promoted, and to name up to 10 influential mentors during or within 5 years of fellowship. Multivariable logistic regression estimated associations between mentee gender and retention and promotion. Next, we separately included 3 network characteristics: (1) mentee degrees (number of mentors reported per mentee); (2) mean mentor betweenness centrality (importance of each mentor within the network); and (3) largest community membership (mentee status in the largest interconnected mentor-mentee group within the network). All models adjusted for generalists' race, specialty, fellowship institution, and publications.

Results: One hundred sixty-two graduates (51%) representing 19 institutions responded. In adjusted analyses, compared to men, women were as likely to remain in academic medicine (odds ratio [OR] 1.88; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.72-4.89; P = .20), but less likely to be promoted within 5 years of fellowship (OR 0.26; 95% CI 0.09-0.80; P = .018). Inclusion of network measures did not alter these associations.

Conclusions: Despite remaining in academic medicine as frequently as their male counterparts, fellowship-trained women were promoted less often. Features of mentors, measured using network analysis, may not explain these observed differences.