Despite efforts to improve parity in the biomedical workforce, gender bias persists related to equitable pay, promotion, speaking opportunities, journal editorial positions, research funding, and leadership positions. This bias becomes more prominent for women of color and women with other intersectional identities who come from underrepresented groups. It is critical to understand the barriers that women face and why the pathway is especially challenging for women of color. In this commentary, the authors cite research related to the effects of institutional gender bias in academic medicine, including research on bias against women of color. As academic leaders who come from underrepresented groups, the authors are aware that traditional approaches to reducing this bias have not worked well, and they instead highlight promising strategies aimed at filling the pathway to leadership with women of color who are qualified and ready to take the helm. They address solutions to ensure the academic pathway is supportive. They also provide several recommendations, including: offering more opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship, improving access to formal leadership programming, modeling successful upstander initiatives, recognizing the growing role of minority-based medical societies, implementing early-career education, increasing journal editorial board representation, and expanding promotion criteria. Appropriate training, education, and partnership with internal and external stakeholders are necessary to advance leadership equity for women of color in academic medicine.
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