Friday, September 27, 2013

Celebrating women in medicine


INVISIBLE BARRIERS: Thorndyke presents at the Women in Medicine Annual Celebration.


“Many women struggle with self-doubt nearly all their lives,” said Luanne Thorndyke, MD, FACP, vice provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “The struggle to prove ourselves begins in childhood. Does that struggle limit our ambition? Does that struggle ever stop?”

Thorndyke presented a lecture, “The View From Above the Glass Ceiling,” to a crowd of nearly 50 MGH attendees during the Sept. 18 Women in Medicine Annual Celebration, hosted by the MGH Office for Women’s Careers. The term “glass ceiling” was first coined in 1984, Thorndyke said, yet almost 30 years later, many women still struggle in their career climb. Drawing on her experiences, Thorndyke discussed some of the issues women leaders face.

“It is very lonely at the top, but success is very rewarding and it’s worth the sacrifice – especially if you’ve found fun along the way,” said Thorndyke. “If you are a physician or scientist at one of the most respected institutions in the world, you are one of the elite, so celebrate your successes and achievements.”

Thorndyke’s topic prompted a discussion among attendees. “Academic promotion is challenging,” said Quynh Truong, MD, MPH, in the Division of Cardiology. “It’s a struggle to balance a family life while making our career a priority.”

Added Sylvia Breton, PhD, of the Division of Nephrology, “Women in general struggle more than men because we are willing to slow down our careers for family. You can get there but it takes longer.”

Anne Klibanski, MD, director of the Center for Faculty Development, noted that it has been a particularly remarkable year for women at the MGH – five women were promoted to full professor, 11 to associate professor and 37 to assistant professor. 

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