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Four Faculty Speak About Their Career Journeys at APA Conference

October 16, 2019

Four Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty spoke about their career journeys and professional growth at the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute for Psychiatric Services Conference in New York on October 5.

The session was organized by Luming Li, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. She was joined on the panel by Yale faculty Ismene Petrakis, MD, Professor of Psychiatry; Kimberly Yonkers, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) and of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; and Ilse Wiechers, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.

A fifth panelist was Anita Everett, MD, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Although their level of experience differs, all five speakers are in psychiatry leadership roles within research, education, clinical, and administrative contexts. They represent the minority of women in leadership roles in medicine; in fact, women faculty who are full professors represent only 13 percent of all full-time faculty, compared to 30 percent for men.

In another study about high impact psychiatric publications, researchers found that women contributed to only one-third of lead authorships in leading journals and composed only one-quarter of the editorial boards.

“I organized the session to highlight the challenges that women face in the academic and professional workplace, and to have a group of women leaders share about tips and tricks and strategies for successfully navigating work/life balance and advancement opportunities,” Li said.

She said there are several reasons why women don’t ascend to leadership roles:

  • Difficulty balancing work and home life;
  • Lack of mentorship and training;
  • Society and systemic perceptions of what a “leader” should look like;
  • Women’s methods of communication; which are perceived as different than men’s;
  • Perception of women as “nurturers” and not “leaders;”
  • Women’s struggle to negotiate for jobs and pay.

The faculty offered helpful advice during the session, including building a network inside and outside their home institution, finding mentors and sponsors, using peer support, asking for part-time leadership roles, being transparent about leadership interest, asking for career development funding, connecting with professional organizations, and navigating organizational and team complexity.

They also discussed ways to overcome setbacks to barriers in their careers.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 16, 2019