Introduction: Leadership positions occupied by women within academic emergency medicine have remained stagnant despite increasing numbers of women with faculty appointments. We distributed a multi-institutional survey to women faculty and residents to evaluate categorical characteristics contributing to success and differences between the two groups.
Methods: An institutional review board-approved electronic survey was distributed to women faculty and residents at eight institutions and were completed anonymously. We created survey questions to assess multiple categories: determination; resiliency; career support and obstacles; career aspiration; and gender discrimination. Most questions used a Likert five-point scale. Responses for each question and category were averaged and deemed significant if the average was greater than or equal to 4 in the affirmative, or less than or equal to 2 in the negative. We calculated proportions for binary questions.
Results: The overall response rate was 55.23% (95/172). The faculty response rate was 54.1% (59/109) and residents’ response rate was 57.1% (36/63). Significant levels of resiliency were reported, with a mean score of 4.02. Childbearing and rearing were not significant barriers overall but were more commonly reported as barriers for faculty over residents (P <0.001). Obstacles reported included a lack of confidence during work-related negotiations and insufficient research experience. Notably, 68.4% (65/95) of respondents experienced gender discrimination and 9.5% (9/95) reported at least one encounter of sexual assault by a colleague or supervisor during their career.
Conclusion: Targeted interventions to promote female leadership in academic emergency medicine include coaching on negotiation skills, improved resources and mentorship to support research, and enforcement of safe work environments. Female emergency physician resiliency is high and not a barrier to career advancement.