Although the number of women in higher education is prominently increasing, they still trail in senior academic and leadership positions. In 2016, women headed only 30.1% of colleges and universities, and are also heavily underrepresented in leadership roles within clinical practice. The socioecological model (SEM) is a theory used to describe the impact of interpersonal relationships, organizations, communities, and policies on an individualÕs actions or behavior, and can be used to describe key elements in women leadership. This scoping review identifies and analyzes the current literature on the theory and application of SEM to women in academic leadership positions.
Literature databases including PubMed, Medline, EBSCO, CINAHL were searched to explore gender-based, personal, interpersonal and organizational factors which are known to influence the individual's role as an academic leader. The context, barriers and success strategies which impact these factors were also summarized.
Personal and interpersonal factors influencing women in academia included academic training, self-confidence, the need to balance teaching, research and administrative expectations and the ability to utilize networking opportunities. Organizational factors included academic freedom, access to research groups or teams, good quality physical resources and the organizationÕs financial and social support in building academic resource networks. Next, strategies to successfully navigate several personal and organizational challenges were determined. At the personal and interpersonal level, strategies included building stronger support networks, identifying role models, creating mentorship and sponsorship programs, and additional academic training. Organizational considerations included managing academic workload, addressing gender disparities, initiating mentorship programs within and outside the organization, conducting organizational training and developing institutional policies to help women create successful academic careers as leaders.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
This review utilizes the SEM framework to inform us about varying levels of challenges faced by women in academic leadership and, therefore, offers suggestions for improvement. These findings can be used in designing, implementing and assessing new initiatives that focus specifically on career development of women in academia and institutional leadership.