Facilitating Peer Support and Collaborations
Opportunities for research collaboration were deemed a major benefit of being part of a women-focused group. Not only was participating in such a group conducive to formulating pertinent avenues of research to pursue, it was also a method by which women felt that they were able to acquire new skills and gain confidence in their writing.6
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 38 – No 12 – December 2019
Facilitating Nonacademic Opportunities and Collaboration
Separate from purely academic pursuits, Lin et al found that participation in a women-focused group also allows for networking opportunities that eventually can lead to enhanced employment options.6 In addition, several women commented on how they were inspired to pursue careers outside of purely academic medicine, including founding organizations and businesses to promote the advancement of women.
Enhancing Negotiating Skills
Research has shown women have undue difficulty when negotiating. Even when attempting to negotiate, women are viewed more negatively by their peers and supervisors than their male counterparts.8 Members of women-focused groups are acutely aware of such issues and, whether formally through workshops or informally through mentorship networks, are able to address this important topic.
Navigating Bias and Harassment
The rates of gender-based harassment are staggering and contribute to the long list of gender-based inequities. As a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report described, harassment includes a mix of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that “convey hostility, objectification, exclusion or second-class status about members of one gender.”9 Members of women-focused groups are able to band together and put forth best-practice standards that call for institutional reforms that may be key to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of female physicians.
Navigating Work-Life Demands
For many, the initial impetus for creating or joining a women-focused group was to bring attention to the precarious balance that many women face when attempting to balance professional duties with family/personal life demands. The old adage of work-life balance has been largely supplanted by the concept of work-life integration. Nevertheless, many well-known issues remain. For example, a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges found that 40 percent of women physicians scale back their medical practice, whether going part-time or leaving medicine entirely, within six years of completing residency.10 Among the reasons women leave full-time medical careers so soon after completing training are family-specific concerns.10 Women-focused groups allow female physicians to find camaraderie while working together in calling for institutional reforms to accommodate different life phases. Without the explicit and implicit support offered by such organizations, many women may feel isolated and find reasons to leave the medical field entirely.