500 Women in Medicine launches to improve gender equity in medicine


500 Women in Medicine launches to improve gender equity in medicine

Contacts: Jane Zelikova & Kelly Ramirez (info@500womenscientists.org) & Kate Gerull (medicine@500womenscientists.org)

December 3, 2018

St. Louis, MO, USA

500 Women in Medicine (500WIM) is a satellite of 500 Women Scientists established by Kate Gerull, Jane Hayes, Iris Kuo, Maren Loe, and Tamara Sanchez-Ortiz, five medical students on a mission to improve gender equity in medicine. For the past 25 years, women have represented greater than 40% of medical school matriculants but continue to be underrepresented in positions of academic medical leadership: Women account for only 22% of full professors, and 16% of deans and department chairs in U.S. medical schools. The trends suggest that the number of talented women in medicine is not lacking, but rather the promotion and advancement of women is stifled. 500WIM leader Jane Hayes said, “It is strange to think that my male classmates in medical school have a higher likelihood of becoming the leaders in medicine simply because of their gender. I want to do something about that.”

You can’t be what you can’t see. In order for women physicians to have equal opportunities to take on leadership in academic medicine, they must be visible and have a platform in the public sphere. But visibility is still sorely lacking. When Robyn Klein, MD, PhD, asked the organizers of a conference why there were only 13 women among the 85 speakers, she was told there just weren’t as many highly qualified women in the field. In response, Dr. Klein gathered data showing that men and women in neuroimmunology publish at equal rates in high impact journals. Klein’s work and similar studies illustrate that equally qualified women are overlooked at conferences and not recognized for their expertise. Few opportunities to share their research and ideas in front of their colleagues is one of the many factors that all directly contribute to limiting women’s career advancement opportunities.

Dr. Klein’s experience is not unlike many others in medicine. Reflecting on their own experiences, five women medical students were prompted to take action and create a platform to highlight publically the contributions of women in medicine. In line with the 500 Women Scientists mission, 500WIM strives to increase the resources for and visibility of women and their accomplishments in academic and clinical medicine. 500WIM founder Kate Gerull said, “The five of us saw this problem of representation and visibility and decided to do something about it. We identified 500 Women Scientists as a leading organization for women in STEM and approached them with the idea to more intentionally include women in medicine into their ongoing efforts.” From these conversations, 500WIM was founded.

The mission of 500WIM is to serve society by making medical knowledge and expertise more collaborative, accessible, and inclusive. To achieve their mission, they:
1. Unite and connect women physicians across the country and around the world
2. Empower women physicians to grow to their full potential in the field of medicine
3. Advocate for gender and health equity  

500WIM is currently working within 500 Women Scientists to integrate medical disciplines into the existing “Request a Woman Scientist” database. The goal is to create an easily accessible public resource tailored to the healthcare industry to help find women in medicine by their education, specialty, and experience.  This resource will enable conference organizers, journalists, researchers, and medical professionals to quickly and easily lookup women physicians and scientists.

500 WIM leader Iris Kuo said, “In the beginning stages of this idea, the feeling I remember most was disbelief--disbelief that people still cite a lack of qualified women as an excuse for gender imbalance in conference speakers, panels, and media sources.” The “Request a Woman Scientist” platform will bridge the disciplines of science and medicine and help grow the network of women in STEM globally.

500 WIM leader Maren Loe said, “This will be an important resource for finding women physician-scientists who are experts in very specific domains. They frequently have one foot in medicine and one foot in science, and their expertise is a valuable resource for researchers and other physicians, as well as the general public.”

When asked about the importance of the database, 500WIM leader Tamara Sanchez-Ortiz said, “There are many women scientists and physicians doing ground breaking work, and with this database, we will leverage technology to bring greater awareness and facilitate connections between the academic community and public.”

For more information visit www.500womenscientists.org/medicine or follow @500WIM on Twitter and @500womeninmedicine on instagram.

500 Women Scientists’ central mission is to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible through the transformative leadership of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. To meet that mission requires changing the face of what a scientist looks like. We have leveraged our network of over 300 Pods (or local chapters) around the world to increase representation of women in STEM through a number of locally-driven initiatives. To learn more, visit www.500womenscientists.org or follow @500WomenSci on Twitter.

500 Women Scientists

Boulder, Colorado, USA