The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville

Research @ UTGSM

Women in Science

An initiative to foster the development of Junior and Mid-Level Female Faculty as Academic Leaders in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Despite decades of efforts aimed at improving gender equity in academic medicine, women remain underrepresented among STEM faculty and in leadership positions at research-intensive medical schools and universities. Although women currently account for almost 50% of U.S. medical school enrollment, this equity has not translated into advancement of women in academic medicine faculty ranks. Women hold only 27% of full-time medical school faculty appointments, less than 11% of women faculty are full professors, and up to 80% of women terminate their academic practice within 10 years of post-graduate training, citing barriers to access, promotion, and retention. For example, of 42 federally funded R&D laboratories in the United States, only two are directed by women. Additionally, recent articles published by the Association of Women in Science and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) highlight the disparity of women in medical science leadership. Another AAMC article features how COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted women in medicine.

It is generally acknowledged that gender-diverse research teams develop innovative and relevant research questions, resulting in research that is applicable and beneficial to a broad population. A gender-diverse medical workforce may also translate into improved patient outcomes. However, development of the next generation of leaders at medical schools requires the mentoring of and support for young talent. Women face a particularly difficult road given that key career advancement often occurs during childbearing years.

Shaping the future of academic medicine by attaining equity for women will require institutional commitment through the development of specific strategies to support, promote, and retain the brightest women in the field. At the UT Graduate School of Medicine, we are in a unique environment that can foster the academic progress of women in medicine and science. Women hold 43% of our research positions and a growing proportion of our clinical faculty appointments. The largest majority of these are junior and mid-level faculty, for whom efforts to foster academic progress could favorably impact career trajectories and, by extension, the institution at large.

Dr. Paul Hauptman, UTGSM Dean, and Dr. Jonathan Wall, Director of Research, are both deeply committed to ensuring that the UTGSM supports women engaged in medical research. As a consequence, we launched a "Women in Science" initiative with the help of $100,000 in philanthropic support from the The University of Tennessee Medical Center Auxiliary, and we have already supported 3 projects directed by female faculty.

We are now seeking ongoing funding to sustain and grow clinical and laboratory-based research initiatives led by women on our campus. This institutional effort is designed to provide researchers with a full range of technical and other resources that can lead to research success, facilitating the procurement of prestigious federal and foundation grants. Additionally, we are adopting strategies designed to provide focused mentoring and professional development, e.g. through a newly launched Academic Leadership Academy and Faculty Development seminar series.

We intend to build a regional and national reputation for our focus on developing the next generation of female leaders in research and academic medicine, as we hire, advance and retain our female faculty.

Support Women in Science

To learn more about supporting "Women in Science" or to meet one of our female faculty members engaged in research, please contact the Development Office via email at or phone at 865-305-6611.

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Diversity and Inclusion in Medical Education and Academic Medicine

Publications from the: Association of American Medical Colleges



Women in Science Recipients

Support The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine

The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine
1924 Alcoa Highway
Knoxville, Tennessee 37920 | 865-305-9290

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