The vision of CWAMS is to advance gender equity in academic medicine and science by changing the culture through the advancement of women into leadership positions. Of the over 83,000 women faculty throughout the United States, many struggle with the connections, networks, or support that they want and need. While women are 50% of the trainees in medical school and residency programs, and even at the assistant professor level represent 50% of the faculty, their numbers substantially dwindle in more advanced roles: full professors, division directors, heads of institutes, department chairs, deans, executive vice presidents and presidents. The myriad of reasons for this differential and why it is so stubbornly persistent have been repeatedly documented.
For several decades now there have been a number of wonderful leadership programs available. As well, the WIM offices and the leadership of many schools of medicine provide much needed support and commitment to the advancement of women faculty. Mentorship programs and coaching (albeit often expensive) are also accessible, while sponsorship is more challenging. As faculty advance, they frequently find themselves with critical career decisions or uncertainties. Generations of men in academic medicine and science have found support, often through informal networks, to help them address these issues. For this reason, CWAMS is now in its second year of a program that explicitly provides this opportunity for women faculty, called the Faculty Advisory Network.
This program differs from several other programs in that it is designed to provide individualized ADVICE and connectivity to the faculty advisee, one person at a time. It pairs each faculty member with a senior advisor; an advisor who has lived the ropes of academic medicine, hired leaders of their institution, and developed connections over their decades in these influential roles. Through regular one-on-one meetings, these long-time leaders advise the faculty member: determine and potentially advance to their next career phase; develop some perspective on issues they may be struggling with or may wish additional knowledge about; and pursue new opportunities, find sponsorship, or prepare for future continued success. After the first-year pilot of this program, many participants have obtained leadership roles, and/or better understood their road to success. Both advisors and engaged faculty found the relationships to be rewarding. This program is confidential, in that CWAMS does not disclose participants. Advisors do not discuss their advisees with anyone, unless their advisee has requested they do so (i.e., for sponsorship, or to gain broader engagement with another advisor).
So, why is it called a network? A network is a connection, and this is a way of increasing your connection, as a faculty member, to individuals outside of your own institution; the advisors are senior leaders who get to know you and even direct you to others to enhance your network. This is not a social network; nor is it a peer network. It is specifically geared to provide you with a new connection to someone who can help you advance your career at an important juncture. We believe this approach fills a gap that has informally been readily available to many who have achieved success in their academic careers.
The Faculty Advisory Network is most appropriate for individuals who are associate or full professors (including individuals who currently hold a leadership role such as department chair or assistant/associate dean) and who aspire to more advanced leadership roles, are seeking new challenges, or may be facing challenges that could significantly impact their career direction. If you wish to apply for this program, please subscribe to be notified when applications re-open.