Self-Efficacy and the Leadership Development of Women in Academic Medicine: A Study of Women Alumnae of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program Open Access
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Despite the fact that women have reached parity in entering and graduating from medical schools (AAMC, 2014), the percentage of women who advance to leadership positions is small. The purpose of this study was to explore the connection between self-efficacy and leadership development over a multi-year period among women in academic medicine following their participation in a specialized leadership development program. The purpose was addressed by analyzing secondary interview data from alumnae of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) Program for Women, using a content analysis research design based on a constructivist paradigm of inquiry. The research problem addressed in this project was that the existing literature is deficient in studies that focus on the exploration of self-efficacy and how it influences the leadership development over time of women in academic medicine. Using Bandura's (1997) self-efficacy theory, this qualitative study was based on the thesis that Bandura's four sources of self-efficacy (performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasions, and physiological states) are determinants of success over time for ELAM alumnae who achieve leadership positions in academic medicine. This study had five major findings. First, this study supports each of Bandura's (1997) four sources of self-efficacy. Second, the most robust evidence of self-efficacy was found in the performance accomplishments self-efficacy source. Third, there was development of self-efficacy over time with the greatest growth within the self-efficacy source of performance accomplishments in the area of skill development relating to negotiation, delegation, budgeting and finance, communication, political savvy, and leadership enhancement, followed by vicarious experiences, and verbal persuasion. Physiological states had the least growth. Fourth, the research and subsequent analysis of findings extend Bandura's (1997) previous research domains to include the demographic of women in academic medicine which could have transferability to highly educated and successful women professionals working in leadership roles in male-dominated fields. Fifth, Bandura's (1997) self-efficacy sources may need to be expanded. This study fills a gap in the research and adds to the body of knowledge related to self-efficacy and leadership development.