Women in Medicine Summit
Women in Medicine Summit
Source:

Smith DG and Johnson WB. Leveraging workplace relationships with men. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Oct. 9-10, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.
October 13, 2020
3 min read
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Speakers highlight men’s role as allies for gender diversity in medicine and beyond

Source:

Smith DG and Johnson WB. Leveraging workplace relationships with men. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Oct. 9-10, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Psychiatry could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of reporting.
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Men can play an important role as advocates for women in the workplace in medical-related positions and beyond, according to presenters at this year’s virtual Women in Medicine Summit.

“The research is clear, and it continues to mount across industries and professions that the more gender diversity we have in our organizations at every level of leadership, all the way from the top to the bottom of our organizations, the better decisions we make, the more effective we are as an organization and the more creative or innovative we are,” David G. Smith, PhD, associate professor of sociology in the National Security Affairs Department at the United States Naval War College, said during the presentation. “If you measure your outcomes in terms of profits and losses, you're more profitable, and if you measure it in terms of other outcomes like mission effectiveness, you’re more effective as an organization, yet women tend to still be excluded in a variety of different ways and they're certainly under-recruited.”

Doctor roundtable
Source: Adobe Stock

According to W. Brad Johnson, PhD, professor of psychology in the department of leadership, ethics and law at the United States Naval Academy, although there have been diversity improvements regarding overall increased recruitment of women in various professions, there have been “terrible outcomes” regarding promotion, retainment and advancement of women into significant leadership roles. A factor highly correlated with this lack of leadership roles among women in all medical specialties is that they report having a mentor far less frequently vs. their male counterparts, as well as receiving sponsorships for career-advancing opportunities less often. According to findings published in 2019, women comprise the majority of medical school students; however, only 16% of medical school deans, 18% of department chairs and 25% of full professors are women.

Johnson noted a phenomenon he and Smith referred to as “reluctant male syndrome,” which refers to potential reluctance among male clinicians/professionals to offer mentorship or sponsorship to women for fear of how the initial conversation may be perceived. Further, men may harbor implicit biases related to seeing women as “nice” but not necessarily as leaders.

“When men are more engaged in gender diversity programs, we see that it makes a difference in terms of how we're accomplishing and meeting our goals, and often this is because men tend to be in positions of power, more likely to be in positions of influence and control of resources,” Smith said. “It makes a difference when men see this as being a leadership issue and not just a women's issue.”

Research has shown a strong correlation between male involvement in gender diversity programs and progress toward gender diversity. However, results of a 2019 study found an “allyship gap”: 77% of men said they are doing everything they can to advance gender equality in the workplace, but only 41% of women agreed that men are; 89% of men said they would be good listeners to a woman reaching out about an experience of workplace harassment, but only 58% of women agreed.

The presenters noted that systemic, interpersonal and public forms of allyship are all connected and are built on a foundation of motivation to advance diversity and develop awareness.

“Our leaders need to be really clear and able to communicate through their messaging about why gender diversity or gender equity is important to them, and they need to be able to communicate the personal connection to it as well as how it connects to the business,” Smith said. “It is so critical that it is tied to the business outcome in some way, and they can communicate this all the way throughout the organization. The second part of this is around transparency: we have to be transparent about what we're doing and why we're doing it.”

Johnson provided an overview of the role men can play in diversity programs.

“When you show up at one of these events — which you should do — listen, learn, don't take control and don't become the spokesman,” he said. “Ask what you can do and have some real humility.”