Inaugural Event Addresses Issues of Women Faculty
Earlier this spring, Einstein's office of faculty development hosted the inaugural Career Day for Women in Science and Medicine, in conjunction with the graduate programs in the biomedical sciences. Over the past 30 years, greater numbers of women have obtained advanced degrees, with nearly half of all medical degrees and doctoral degrees in life sciences awarded to women. Yet, within academia, women remain underrepresented among faculty positions, and encounter discrepancies in salary levels, funding, promotion and available leadership opportunities. The day-long program, which was attended by more than 100 female faculty members sought to address these issues.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Deborah HelitzerThe event kicked off with introductory and welcoming remarks from Dr. Christina Coyle, assistant dean for faculty development, Dr. Martha Grayson, senior associate dean for medical education and Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Einstein's Marilyn and Stanley Katz Dean. Setting the tone, Dr. Coyle noted, "Together we will reflect on issues affecting women faculty and find ways to overcome disparities they face in their careers."
Dr Victoria Freedman, associate dean for graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, then led a lively discussion following the presentation of faculty data, which detailed the roles women faculty fulfill within Einstein.
Exchange of ideasNext, invited speaker Dr. Deborah Helitzer, associate vice chancellor for research education and professor of family and community medicine at the University of New Mexico, discussed the current status of women faculty in the nation and the challenges they face. She also suggested ways that research and medical institutions could create an environment in which women scientists and doctors can be more successful.
Following the keynote address, Dr. Freedman moderated an inspirational session, "Our Stories: Stepping Stones to Success," through which three outstanding members of the Einstein faculty — Drs. Judy Aschner, professor and chair of pediatrics at Einstein and physician-in-chief at Einstein's University Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center; Joan Berman, professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology, as well as senior academic advisor to the graduate division; and Chinazo Cunningham, associate professor of medicine and of family and social medicine — shared their personal stories. Their presentations were followed by a discussion highlighting the different paths that women have taken to achieve their career successes.
The event organizer and speaker (from left): Drs. Christina Coyle, Marti Grayson, Julia Arnsten, Nadine Katz, Deborah Helitzer, Ellie Schoenbaum and Victoria FreedmanThe event also included sessions aimed at helping the attendees to identify individual goals and to devise strategies through which they could fulfill them. These were followed by a networking session where participants shared their experiences within small groups.
"These meetings were the highlight of the entire event," said one participant in a post-event evaluation. "Interacting with so many gifted women researchers from diverse career paths was inspiring, and it was reassuring to see that the problems I face are universal."
Another noted, "The event boosted my confidence greatly. Certain career goals, which I had forsaken after taking a career break to concentrate on my family, no longer seem unattainable."
Dr. Edward R. Burns, Einstein's executive dean, delivered the event's closing remarks. He discussed ways in which Einstein seeks to support women faculty members and reiterated Einstein's commitment to continue building opportunities for the career advancement of women scientists and doctors.