ACP advocates for gender equity for physicians
NEW ORLEANS — ACP recently published a position paper in Annals of Internal Medicine offering recommendations on how to promote and achieve gender equity in compensation and career advancement within the medical profession.
In a press briefing at the ACP Internal Medicine Meeting, ACP leaders, including Jack Ende, MD, president of ACP, Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, chair of ACP’s Board of Regents, Darilyn Moyer, MD, executive VP and CEO of ACP, and Sue S. Bornstein, MD, chair of ACP’s Health and Public Policy Committee, discussed the college’s efforts to lessen the significant disparities and challenges that women in medicine endure.
“This paper represents a very significant step in the college’s identification of the important issues facing women in medicine, but also in identifying some of the solutions,” Ende said during the briefing.
In the paper ACP called for the adoption of equitable compensation policies. The college also urged for investment in leadership development, negotiation and career development programs and parental and family leave policies.
The ACP made several specific recommendations for all organizations that employ physicians to achieve gender equity:
- Ensure equitable compensation;
- Support universal access to family and medial leave policies regardless of gender;
- Encourage women to take on leadership positions;
- Invest in research on barriers to career advancement and the effects of gender compensation inequity and how to best alleviate negative impacts;
- Employ implicit bias training; and
- Establish leadership development, negotiation and career development programs.
“As an organization, we are committed to acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges women physicians must confront over the course of their careers,” Thompson Hingle said. “It is only by doing this that we are able to really recognize the benefit of the full potential of our workforce. Promoting gender equity and eliminating the inequities in compensation and career advancement is something that has been a long-standing goal of the college, but now we are trying to get practical and real.”
In a related editorial, Molly Carnes, MD, MS, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote that while the ACP’s position paper is timely and important, it does not guarantee gender equity.
Carnes noted that “gender stereotypes threaten the realization of ACP’s goal.”
By stating its commitment to equity, ACP’s paper may result in unintended negative consequences, according to Carnes.
“Research finds that those who evaluate an organization proclaiming its commitment to diversity and fairness consistently fail to recognize overt gender and race discrimination and that those who view themselves as objective, nonsexist, or nonracist provide the most biased judgments,” she wrote.
To avoid hostility, inventions should use aspirational messages, such as “we are all working hard to achieve gender equity,” instead of declarative messages, such as “gender equity is good for me and my department,” she wrote.
It is important to implement implicit bias training, she noted.
“The ACP statement is profound and paradigm-shifting,” Carnes concluded. “It should ... launch the long-term, multilevel, theoretically derived, evidence-based, and relentless efforts required for a cultural transformation. Despite good intentions, stereotype-based bias is insidious and will operate in unintentional and invisible ways to oppose cultural change and maintain the status quo. Once achieved, however, gender equity in medicine ... will be good for everyone.”
At the briefing, Moyer said that Carnes’ editorial was an “excellent” response to the paper.
“There certainly is some data from the business arena that the best people to lead this are those in the majority,” she said. “Sometimes when folks who are in the minority speak up about this, they may get negatively labeled. This is why we need all hands on deck and we need to engage everyone in this.”
Hingle noted that the paper is about helping individuals.
“It is not about increasing my compensation or helping her career advancement,” she said. “It’s about helping whatever organization fulfill their mission more effectively. There is a lot of evidence, particularly in the business literature thus far, that shows that a diverse workforce has a lot of improved outcomes related to creativity and progress in general.” – by Alaina Tedesco
Achieving gender equity in medicine. Presented at: ACP Internal Medicine Annual Meeting; April 19-21, 2018; New Orleans.
Disclosure: Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.