AMA Awards Research Grants to Advance the Study of Women in Medicine

CHICAGO – Each September, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes influential female physician leaders as part of Women in Medicine Month. To showcase the accomplishments of these leaders, the AMA Women Physicians Section (WPS) and the AMA Foundation today announced the winners of the 2018 Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women research grants program.

The Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women Award is administered by the AMA Foundation on behalf of the AMA Women Physicians Section. The AMA-WPS and AMA Foundation awards scholarships of up to $10,000 to health care researchers to identity and address issues that affect women physicians and medical students. The AMA-WPS and AMA Foundation have granted 25 research awards since 2006 on topics such as flexible work options, gender differences in the practice patterns of obstetricians/gynecologists, and the promotion and retention of diversity in medical education.

“During Women in Medicine Month, the AMA is honored to recognize exceptional members of the medical community whose work will shed light on the issues facing women in medicine today,” said AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. “Through this grant program the AMA is reaffirming its commitment to further propel the advancement of women in medicine and advocate for women’s health issues.”

One of the winning 2018 projects focuses on “Fixing the Leaky Pipeline – Attrition of women during medical training.” It will be led by four members of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), including Eliza Lo Chin, M.D., M.P.H., AMWA Executive Director; Roberta Gebhard, D.O., AMWA President-elect and Gender Equity Task Force Co-Chair; Mary K. Rojek, Ph.D., AMWA Chair of the Sex and Gender Health Collaborative; Mollie Marr, B.F.A., AMWA Student President-Elect and Oregon Health and Science University M.D./Ph.D. Candidate.

“Despite increasing numbers of women entering the medical profession over the past decade, the percentage of active women physicians has made only marginal gains—a trend that speaks to the persistence of a leaky pipeline for women which occurs at all stages of their medical careers. We are honored to receive this AMA award for our qualitative pilot study that will examine the primary factors that led medical students and residents to leave the medical profession during their training years—providing an important opportunity to learn about women’s experiences during medical training, how we might improve their experience, and how the healthcare environment could be more responsive to the needs of all trainees. We hope the findings from this study will guide subsequent research that will analyze in more depth the factors which influence women to leave medicine at various stages of their careers,” said Dr. Gebhard.

The second winning project, “Investigating Gender Bias in Medical Student Evaluations,” will be led by Arghavan Salles, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Maren Loe, M.D./Ph.D. student at Washington University School of Medicine.

“By examining the written evaluations of medical students on core clerkships, we plan to uncover the ways in which evaluators may write differently about men and women. Since those evaluations are often pulled directly into the Dean's Letter for residency applications, any bias in them may handicap women as they apply for residency. While others have examined gender bias in other evaluative contexts, for example entrepreneurs applying for funding from venture capital firms, no one has yet looked specifically at medical student evaluations,” said Dr. Salles. “Ultimately, through this project, we hope to raise awareness of gender bias broadly and to help evaluators and clerkship directors mitigate bias in their evaluations in the interest of justice.”

“We are grateful to the Giambalvo Fund for their support of this important research. We will use our findings to inform clerkship directors and other evaluators of any bias and help improve the current system,” said Ms. Loe.

The AMA has adopted numerous policies aimed at encouraging medical associations and other relevant organizations to study gender difference in income and advancement trends, by specialty, experience, work hours and other practice characteristics, and develop programs to address disparities where they exist. The AMA will continue to strongly support equity and diversity across medicine and promote professional growth and development for physicians at every stage of their careers.