There are significant barriers for clinical psychiatrists to develop academic research programs. These include the extensive medical training required by the clinical specialty, and the relative lack of available clinical psychiatrists given the increasing demands for mental health services across Canada. This leads to a significant underrepresentation of clinical psychiatrists among academic mental health researchers, with a corresponding loss of the unique patient-oriented perspective they bring. Women clinical psychiatrists are at an even greater disadvantage than men in this context, given the additional societal and family pressures that may contribute to further reducing the amount of time they have available to devote to pursuing academic research.
A recent study of gender inequity for academic psychiatrists in Canada (1) found that women had fewer research publications than men, with a lower mean h-index. This disparity was particularly pronounced for junior faculty, where women psychiatrists made up almost half the assistant professors, compared to only a third at the associate professor level, and less than a quarter at the full professor level. These findings support the results of an earlier study of gender differences in academic psychiatry in Ontario (2) that found that women were less involved in research, less likely to hold pharmaceutical funding and less likely to have published within the last five years than men. Women described their careers as less successful than men but felt less regret in choosing psychiatry as a career.
In order to improve the equity of women in academic psychiatry, this career development award has been created in partnership with the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA). The CPA is the national voluntary professional association for Canada’s 4,700 psychiatrists and 900 residents. As the national voice of Canada’s psychiatrists, the mission of the CPA is to promote the highest quality of care and treatment for persons with mental illness, and to advocate for the professional needs of its members by promoting excellence in education, research and clinical practice.
(1) Chauvin S, Mulsant BH, Sockalingam S, et al. Gender differences in research productivity among academic psychiatrists in Canada. Can J Psychiatry. 2019;64(6):415-422.
(2) Garfinkel PE, Bagby RM, Schuller DR, et al. Gender differences in the practice characteristics and career satisfaction of psychiatrists in Ontario. Acad Psychiatry. 2004;28(4):310-320.