The FOCUS 25th anniversary
FOCUS belongs to the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) women faculty and our mission is to work, in as many ways as possible, to support an environment where women faculty thrive.
The FOCUS 25th Anniversary Needs Assessment was distributed to all full-time PSOM women faculty (N = 1,101) in Fall 2019. Two-hundred and eight (208) PSOM women faculty completed the Needs Assessment (response rate of 18.9%), the results of which are shared below.
WHO RESPONDED TO THE SURVEY?
Respondents included women faculty representing 24 departments and 25 divisions across the PSOM. The following include the distribution by rank, stage of career, track, and race/ethnicity:
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL NEEDS OF WOMEN PSOM FACULTY?
Qualitative analysis revealed that respondents identified general needs for PSOM women faculty in the following areas: leadership training, work life integration (new mother support), research (increasing visibility, identification of funding opportunities), bias training, career advancement and promotion, negotiations, self-advocacy, mentorship/sponsorship, networking, institutional support, and resources for nonclinical demands.
“Ways to navigate flex working time especially around childbearing years.”
“Achieving optimal work-life balance among very ambitious peers.”
“1. Showcasing the scholarship of faculty at schools within the university to promote cross disciplinary collaboration 2. Using social media and online platforms for professional branding. 3. The role of the Provost's office in professional development and promotion (ie modifying the promotion clock, sabbatical, awareness of Penn Forum for women Faculty, etc)”
Identified general needs differed among different groups of respondents:
WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF PSOM WOMEN FACULTY?
Qualitative analysis reveal that respondents identified specific needs for themselves in the following areas: networking, leadership training and opportunities, research, coach, skill development (public speaking, communication strategies, financial planning, retirement planning, time management), institutional support (AC track, part time, division support of nontraditional roles and scheduling meetings), work life integration, mentorship/sponsorship, and resources for nonclinical demands.
“How to receive credit/acknowledgement for nontraditional leadership and group-based projects. I am a thought leader often invited to panels and workshops yet not the leader of the opportunity.”
“Providing emotional support via joint meetings to foster a sense of community and reduce isolation.”
“Flagging and countering implicit bias in the workplace; Finding research collaborators; Finding mentors; Balancing research and teaching/service.”
“Allowing AC track to be chairs of department- to inject balance and humanity into leadership”
Identified specific needs differed among different groups of respondents.
WHAT SHOULD FUTURE FOCUS PROGRAMMING LOOK LIKE?
The majority of respondents (56.7%, n = 118) said that FOCUS should offer programming to both men and women depending on the topic, while 31.7% (n = 66) thought that programming should only be offered to women.
Respondents were given a list of FOCUS programming and asked to choose the top five leadership development workshops of most interest to them, they were:
Negotiation (50.5%, n = 105);
Addressing confidence: taming the imposter complex (39.4%; n = 82);
Time management and delegation (32.2%; n = 67);
Managing up (30.8%; n= 64);
Conflict resolution skills (30.3%; n = 63); and
Tackling the guilt thing: multiple and competing roles (30.3%; n = 63)
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO PARTICIPATING IN FOCUS PROGRAMMING?
The most common barrier to participation is that women faculty are too busy with other responsibilities (84.6%; n = 176). Other barriers including location (33.7%, n = 70) and lack of knowledge of opportunities (15.4%; n = 32) are modifiable factors that FOCUS can impact by offering programming at other locations, especially the CHOP, as well as virtual access and through increased marketing.
WHAT ARE RESPONDENTS' EXPERIENCES WITH FOCUS PROGRAMMING?
We asked respondents to indicate which programs they have participated in and what program they liked the best/least and why. Of the 201 women faculty who responded to this question, more than half (57.2%; n = 115) attended the Annual Fall Conference. Respondents who said that the Annual Fall Conference was their favorite program said that networking, reconnecting with women faculty and learning from great speakers were some of the reasons why.
One respondent added that the FOCUS Annual Fall Conference, “helps me remember that I can do this career.” There was criticism regarding the Fall Conference with one respondent suggesting that, “there needs to be a stronger emphasis on diverse speakers, with diversity occurring from an ethnic/racial, socioeconomic, and gender/sexuality perspective.”
This feedback, along with findings from our annual conference evaluations, was integral in planning the 2020 Fall Conference and will continue to inform future conferences.
Nearly half of respondents (48.3%; n = 97) have attended the FOCUS Lunchtime Seminar Series and liked the variety of topics.
A recurrent issue shared is that due to the location of the seminars and/or clinical scheduling, they can be difficult to attend. One respondent requested that the seminars be accessible remotely. FOCUS has transitioned to virtual seminars and events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and we have seen an increase in participation.
Overall feedback on FOCUS included appreciation of this resource:
“Keep going. Your impact has been incredible. Here’s to another 25 years.”
“A critical organization and force at Penn. Need to change culture so maybe we need to not only support women but engage men in groups designed to discuss issues? Easier to do when they are not in your division or your boss. But keep on supporting women.”
“A big 'thank you' - FOCUS is one of the few, perhaps the only that I have had the opportunity to participate in, SOM program that has provided sustained career support and promoted a sense of individual and shared self-value.”
FOCUS will continue to incorporate the findings from the 25th Anniversary Needs Assessment to ensure that our programming meets the needs of PSOM women faculty for the next 25 years and beyond.