Academic Promotions in Medicine: An Appraisal of Fairness

Rahma Warsame, Yong hun Kim, Melody Y. Ouk, Kristin C. Mara, Martha Q. Lacy, Sharonne N. Hayes, Zamzam Shalle, Joyce Balls-Berry, Barbara L. Jordan, Felicity T. Enders, Alexandra P. Wolanskyj-Spinner, Robert J. Spinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate whether the process of conferring academic rank or components of the promotion packet contribute to the lack of parity in academic advancement for women and individuals underrepresented in medicine (URMs). Patients and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed prospective promotion applications to the position of associate professor or professor at Mayo Clinic from January 2, 2015, through July 1, 2019. Individuals with doctorate degrees who applied for either rank were included in the study. Data collected included demographic characteristics, curriculum vitae at time of application, committee score sheets, and deferral and approval decisions. Deferral rates for women compared with men and for URMs compared with non-URMs was the primary outcome. Results: Of 462 people who applied for associate professor, 10% (n=46) were deferred. Those promoted had worked longer at Mayo Clinic (median, 6 years vs 2 years; P=.01), had more mentees (median, 6 vs 4; P=.02), authored more publications (median [interquartile range (IQR)], 39 [32-52] vs 30 [24-35]; P<.001), and were more likely to be on a National Institutes of Health or institutional grant (P<.05). Of the 320 people who applied for professor, 8.8% (n=28) were deferred. Those promoted had authored more publications (median [IQR], 77 [60-99] vs 56 [44-66]; P<.001) and were less likely to hold an elected office to a professional society (22.6% vs 39.3%; P=.05). There was no significant association between deferral status and sex (P>.4) or race/ethnicity (P>.9) for either rank. Conclusion: The process for academic advancement for professorships does not contribute to the gap in promotion rates for women and URMs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-434
Number of pages11
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


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