Women in Academic Pathology: Pathways to Department Chair

Mary F. Lipscomb, David N. Bailey, Lydia P. Howell, Rebecca Johnson, Nancy Joste, Debra G.B. Leonard, Priscilla Markwood, Vivian W. Pinn, Deborah Powell, Marie Ann Thornburg, Dani S. Zander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The Association of Pathology Chairs, an organization of American and Canadian academic pathology departments, has a record percent of women department chairs in its ranks (31%), although still not representative of the percent of women pathology faculty (43%). These women chairs were surveyed to determine what had impeded and what had facilitated their academic advancement before becoming chairs. The 2 most frequently identified impediments to their career advancement were heavy clinical loads and the lack of time, training, and/or funding to pursue research. Related to the second impediment, only one respondent became chair of a department which was in a top 25 National Institutes of Health–sponsored research medical school. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said that they had experienced gender bias during their careers in pathology, and 31% identified gender bias as an important impediment to advancement. The top facilitator of career advancement before becoming chairs was a supportive family. Strikingly, 98% of respondents have a spouse or partner, 75% have children, and 38% had children younger than 18 when becoming chairs. Additional top facilitators were opportunities to attend national meetings and opportunities to participate in leadership. Previous leadership experiences included directing a clinical service, a residency training program, and/or a medical student education program. These results suggest important ways to increase the success of women in academic pathology and increasing the percent of women department chairs, including supporting a family life and providing time, encouragement and resources for research, attending national meetings, and taking on departmental leadership positions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAcademic Pathology
StatePublished - Apr 28 2021

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© The Author(s) 2021.


  • advancement in academic medicine
  • gender bias
  • gender diversity
  • leadership development in academic medicine
  • women pathology department chairs


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