UM Professor studies effects of internal recognition on promotions, retention of female employees

Published 3:33 pm Monday, June 13, 2022

How does internal recognition affect promotions and retention of women in the field of academic medicine? That is a question that Kristin Cullen-Lester, an assistant professor of management at the University of Mississippi, hopes to answer.

Research shows that women in academic medicine wait longer to receive a promotion and leave their jobs at a faster rate than male peers. This project seeks to clarify whether and to what extent internal visibility influences the data.

Cullen-Lester is conducting the research with Caitlin Porter, a University of Memphis assistant professor of management, and Katelyn Cavanaugh, an industrial-organizational psychologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“We are looking at the impact of internal awards on speed to promotion and voluntary turnover, including whether receiving these awards impacts the careers of men and women differently,” Cullen-Lester said.

The team recently traveled to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology annual conference in Seattle to receive an SIOP Small Grant to fund their large-scale research study.

“We are all looking forward to involving students at our respective institutions in the project and hope it will be a great learning experience for early career researchers,” Cullen-Lester said.

The project features an analysis of data for more than 1,800 medical faculty across 17 departments, spanning a 15-year period. They plan to use the grant to continue their project by conducting additional research.

“Dr. Cullen-Lester continues to produce exceptionally relevant and informative research for the School of Business,” said Richard Gentry, chair of the management department at UM.

“Her work produces the kinds of findings that can be immediately applicable in practice just as well as informative in the classroom. She would certainly know; she has extensive industry experience.”

Ken Cyree, dean of the Ole Miss School of Business Administration, also praised Cullen-Lester’s achievements both inside and outside the university.

“Dr. Cullen-Lester has been a prolific author with success in publishing in several journals that are rated as elite,” he said. “We are glad to have her providing insight into leadership and performance in organizations, in addition to adding value in the classroom for our students.

“Her research is outstanding and she contributes effectively to our research mission as a R1-rated institution on this and other projects.”