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Compiled by Janet Bickel, Associate Vice President, Assoc Amer Med Colleges, 8/02


1. Drago, R, Williams, J. A Half-Time Tenure Track Proposal. Change, 2000; 32:46-51.

In this article, Drago and Williams apply the concepts from Williams’ outstanding “must-read” book (Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It. Oxford University Press: NY, 2000) to academic tenure. Women faculty will continue to lag behind males in achieving tenure as long as the ideal academic is defined as someone who takes little time off for childrearing. The authors suggest redefining the ideal worker in academia by offering proportional pay, benefits, and advancement for part-time work. This article is particularly useful for its succinct analysis of the issues, and for its presentation of a detailed model half-time tenure track policy.

2. Froom JD, Bickel J. Medical school policies for part-time faculty committed to full professional effort. Academic Medicine, 1996; 71:91-6.

Building on the AAMC's 1993-94 survey of faculty appointment and tenure policies, in 1994 the authors surveyed 102 U.S. and Canadian medical schools reporting provisions for part-time faculty. Of the 71 survey respondents, 32 of these (45%) had developed specific procedures for "full professional effort" (FPE) faculty. Thirty-one of the 71 schools responding (44%) reported that FPE faculty could be appointed to, or remain on, a tenure track. Nineteen of these 31 schools also reported lengthening the probationary period on a prorated basis. Women, much more frequently than men, had chosen the FPE option, especially women clinical faculty. This core article contributes substantially to the literature by defining subtypes of part-time faculty and gathering survey data specific to the FPE (“sunlighter”) subtype. They also discuss issues such as the “second-class citizen” syndrome experienced by FPE faculty.

3. Levinson W, Kaufman K, Bickel J. Part-time faculty in academic medicine: present status and future challenges. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1993; 119:220-5.

Of an estimated 400 part-time faculty in U.S. departments of medicine, 245 responded to a survey (69% return rate) about working conditions, attitudes toward professional and personal issues, and institutional policies. Sixty-three percent were men and 27% were women. Women faculty worked an average of 35 h/wk, combining their careers with childbearing, whereas men worked 51 h/wk, divided between their faculty position and private practice. Respondents' work time was devoted to teaching and patient care, with no time dedicated for research. Most faculty (86%) were in nontenured track positions. Only 8% reported that existing institutional policies allowed part-time faculty more time to reach promotion and tenure standards. A high degree of career satisfaction existed (mean score, 8.6 on a 10-point scale) even though faculty believe that part-time status makes promotion more difficult and negatively influences colleagues' perceptions of them. This article may not be generalizable beyond internal medicine, but it is a recent national study that succeeds in its effort to characterize part-time faculty. It provides an interesting comparison to the University of Illinois sample discussed in my paper.

4. Potee RA, Gerber AJ, Ickovics JR. Medicine and motherhood: shifting trends among female physicians from 1922 to 1999. Academic Medicine, 1999; 74:911-9.

The authors surveyed 863 women who matriculated at Yale University School of Medicine from 1922 to 1999. They requested information on personal and professional demographics, career satisfaction, child rearing, and childbearing. Of the 586 responding women (70% response rate), 82% of those over 40 were mothers. Between 1950 and 1989, 42% of the women with children had them during medical training. More absolute numbers of women are having children during medical training, increasing the demand for longer leaves, greater training flexibility, and childcare opportunities. Recommendations for changes that recognize these trends are provided. Although this article may not apply beyond Yale, the survey is well-designed, serves as a wake-up call to those who have not noted the trend toward child-bearing during training, and has a practical and relevant discussion section (not coincidentally, the first two authors are in residency and medical school, respectively).

5. Socolar RR, Kelman LS, Lannon CM, Lohr JA. Institutional policies of U.S. medical schools regarding tenure, promotion, and benefits for part-time faculty. Academic Medicine, 2000; 75:846-9.

The authors collected survey data on institutional policies regarding tenure, promotions, and benefits for part-time faculty at U.S. medical schools. Fifty-eight of 104 respondents from 126 medical schools had written policies about tenure, promotion, or benefits for part-time faculty. Of the 95 medical schools with tenure systems, 25 allowed part-time faculty to get tenure, but only 23 allowed part-time status as a reason to slow the tenure clock. The authors conclude that most medical schools do not have policies that foster tenure for part-time faculty, although many allow for promotion and offer a variety of benefits to part-time faculty. This study builds on the survey by Froom and Bickel by collecting and analyzing additional data about part-time faculty policies. Their distinction between policies fostering tenure versus promotion for part-time faculty is also valuable.

6. Bickel J, Wara D, Atkinson BF, Cohen LS, Dunn M, Hostler S, Johnson TR, Morahan P, Rubenstein AH, Sheldon GF, Stokes E. Increasing women's leadership in academic medicine: report of the AAMC Project Implementation Committee. Academic Medicine, 2002; Oct; 77(10):1043-61.

The AAMC's Increasing Women's Leadership Project Implementation Committee examined four years of data on the advancement of women in academic medicine. With women comprising only 14% of tenured faculty and 12% of full professors, the committee concluded that the progress achieved was inadequate. The committee made specific recommendations to improve the situation:

  •  Emphasize faculty diversity in departmental reviews;
  • Target women's professional development needs and improve mentorship;
  •  Change institutional practices that tend to favor men's over women's professional development, such as “rewarding unrestricted availability to work,” ie, neglect of personal life;
  • Redefine search committee processes and criteria;
  • Monitor on a continuing basis the representation of women at senior levels; provide financial support of institutional Women in Medicine programs.

This article’s emphasis on changing institutional practice in support of work-family balance, in order to increase the number of women leaders, lends support to consideration of a pro-rated tenure track option.

7. Carr PL, Ash AS, Friedman RH, Scaramucci A, Barnett RC, Szalacha L, Palepu A, Moskowitz MA. Relation of family responsibilities and gender to the productivity and career satisfaction of medical faculty. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1998; Oct 1;129(7):532-8.

The authors surveyed 1979 respondents from a sample of full-time academic medical school faculty in 24 U.S. medical schools. The 177-item survey questionnaire examined dependent responsibilities by gender, and identified their relation to the aspirations, goals, rate of progress, academic productivity, and career satisfaction of male and female medical school faculty. The survey found that, for both male and female faculty, more than 90% of time devoted to family responsibilities was spent on childcare. Among faculty with children, women had greater obstacles to academic careers and less institutional support than men. Compared with men with children, women with children had fewer publications, slower self-perceived career progress, and lower career satisfaction. However, no significant differences between the sexes were seen for faculty without children. The authors conclude that female faculty with children face major obstacles in academic careers, and suggest simple modifications to overcome these obstacles, including the creation of part-time career tracks.

8. Socolar RR, Kelman LS. Part-time faculty in academic pediatrics, medicine, family medicine, and surgery: the views of the chairs. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 2002; Sep-Oct;2(5):406-13.

The authors surveyed all chairs of U.S. departments of pediatrics, medicine, family medicine, and surgery. Chairs from 308 (59%) of 519 departments completed the survey. Overall, 85% of responding departments employed part-time faculty (50-100% time appointments). The average rating for satisfaction with part-time faculty was between “very satisfied” and “satisfied.” The most frequently cited advantages of employing part-time faculty were keeping talented people in the workforce who might otherwise leave; leveraging financial resources; and skills of part-time faculty. The most frequently cited disadvantages were less academic productivity of part-time faculty and lack of shared goals/values of part-time faculty with the department. Overall, more advantages than disadvantages were cited. Part-time faculty tended to have lower academic rank than full-time faculty. Interestingly, more absolute numbers of men than women worked part time, but the percentage of women choosing part time employment was equal to or greater than that of men. This study provides demographics of part time COM faculty, and demonstrates that the contributions of these faculty members are valued by their department leadership, despite their reduced academic productivity within the current system.