The Georgetown University Medical Center’s School of Medicine promoted over 100 women to the status of full professors, fulfilling a goal established last year by the faculty-run organization Georgetown Women in Medicine.
GWIM, which advocates for the professional advancement of women in the medical field, celebrated the accomplishment with a reception Sept. 29 after GUMC learned of the promotion of the 100th woman last June. The organization prioritized achieving the full professor status of 100 women by connecting women within the school to mentors and organizing promotion workshops for female faculty.
With women comprising 18 percent of full professors in academic medicine at the School of Medicine, the university lags slightly behind the national average of 21 percent, according to the most recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges on the topic in 2013. Only three department chairs at the School of Medicine — 11 percent — are women.
GWIM aims to increase the percentage of female departmental chairs and to gather data on salary equity within the medical school.
GWIM President Kristy Graves, who is also an associate professor of oncology, said that the milestone was particularly significant in light of challenges faced by women in medicine, who often face additional demands outside of publishing and research.
“I think there are a lot of subtle obstacles, such as competing time demands in the workplace and the full lives of women faculty outside of their day-to-day jobs,” Graves said. “I think the thing I’ve seen change — I’ve been here 11 years — is that GWIM’s voice matters and our opinion is heard when we offer it.”
School of Medicine Executive Dean Edward Healton, who also serves as the executive vice president of health services, stressed gender equality as one of the school’s core values in an email to The Hoya.
“We know that women bring a different perspective to their professional lives and that perspective can positively impact their peers as well as their patients,” Healton wrote. “Much has been said about the differences between male and female professionals in biomedical fields, but the mere fact that there are differences supports the argument that women bring to the table a set of experiences that is informing and impactful.”
Healton said GWIM’s programs address the paucity of female mentors within the medical school, making it more difficult for female students to find role models.
“Mentorship is critical to the success of all students and certainly women and men contribute significantly, but to not have half of that equation is disadvantage,” Healton wrote.
Georgetown Medical School’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association Co-President Elizabeth Zolper (GRD ’19) commended GWIM’s fulfillment of a concrete goal in seeing 100 professors achieve full professorship, but she recognized the lack of representation persisting in certain fields.
“There are still a lot more inequalities throughout the system,” Zolper said. “Especially at Georgetown, a powerhouse in orthopedics, you’ll still see that orthopedics and some other schools are still very male-dominated, and even though this school is really well-known for it, there aren’t the female physicians in certain fields to serve as mentors.”
Association of Women Surgeons Vice President Colleen Hamm-Kelly (GRD ’19) said the conditions for women in the School of Medicine are noticeably improving. Although the total student body in the School of Medicine is half male and half female, Hamm-Kelly said the majority of her graduating class is female. In addition, Hamm-Kelly noted a prevalence of women in campus groups.
“It’s a big step in the history of medicine,” Hamm-Kelly said. “I think, overall, the atmosphere is very welcoming. I definitely don’t ever feel intimidated or brought down because I am a woman.”
Correction: An early version of this story misspelled Kristi Graves’ name.