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Wom-aceda-medic-eosis! Translation: Burnout. December 5, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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First: Ohmigosh, wordpress is snowing! Squee!!

Second: On to real business. Do you, like our subject, get tired of being a woman in academic medicine? Longer hours for less recognition, a dismal rate of awards and prizes.. or is that just the nature of the field?

Read the original here. 

By Pauline Chen, M.D.

I recently learned that a doctor friend had seriously considered quitting her job at her medical school to go into private practice. As long as I have known her, she has talked about her love for teaching new doctors and conducting research while still caring for patients. Nonetheless, I wasn’t surprised to hear the reason she wanted to leave.

“I got tired of being a woman in academic medicine,” she said.

She recounted how, much more than her male colleagues, she would be assigned to work during major holidays, cover for others’ absences and sit on administrative committees that took time away from the research required to advance her career. When she spoke to her chairman about the discrepancies, he listened — but never responded to her repeated requests for a raise or more support.

What surprised me, however, was what finally persuaded her to stay. When she described her situation to some male colleagues, they listened attentively, then began relaying their frustrations with how little support they got from superiors.

“It’s hard being a woman here, but I concluded it’s not that great for anyone else either,” she said.

Sadly, her assessment seems to be correct, according to a recent study on the experiences of women and men working in medical schools.

Academic medical centers — institutions that have as their primary mission the training of new doctors, medical research and comprehensive clinical care – have long played a crucial role in how medicine is practiced in the United States. While historically most doctors were men, medical schools began broadening their admissions policies a little over a generation ago, so that women soon made up anywhere from a third to half of all students and trainees and an increasing percentage of the professors.

But in 2000, a landmark national survey of those working in these institutions revealed that gender bias was widespread. More than half of the women professors surveyed reported being discriminated against or sexually harassed, even as most of their male colleagues believed that such disparities in their institutions did not exist. Other studies found that women faculty members continued to make less money than their male peers, were promoted more slowly and even fared worse in academia’s most revered expression of meritocracy, the peer-review process.

Some researchers attributed the persistent issue to a “pipeline problem,” insufficient numbers of senior level women in medicine, particularly in certain specialties like surgery. Other experts postulated that women were more sensitive to unfair treatment because they tended to be more relationship-oriented than their male colleagues. Still others offered up what amounted to a tautological zinger: by choosing not to leave academic medicine, women simply had more opportunities to experience harassment.

The latest study, conducted as part of the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine and published in The Journal of General Internal Medicine, offers another reason for women’s discontent in academic medical centers: the organizational culture, or the norms of behavior and implicit values of these institutions. And it’s not just women who are feeling demoralized.

The researchers administered a 20-minute questionnaire to over 2,000 faculty members at more than 25 academic medical centers and asked if their work energized them, if they felt ignored or invisible, if they felt pressure to be more aggressive or compromise their values and if their institution promoted altruistic and public service values.

As in earlier studies, more women than men felt marginalized and discriminated against, despite being as ambitious and engaged in work as their male colleagues. Many of the women also described a lack of trust in their institutions or little confidence that the discrimination they were experiencing would ever be addressed.

But both women and men expressed similarly negative feelings about a lack of support from their institutions for their work. And the men were just as likely as the women to feel what experts have termed “moral distress,” a sense of being trapped and forced to compromise on what one believes is right or just.

“We have this dehumanizing organizational culture in academic medicine that doesn’t allow people to realize their potential or be as vital and productive as they can be,” said the lead author, Dr. Linda H. Pololi, a senior scientist at Brandeis University who is also the director of the initiative. “It’s hard to ignore the far-reaching consequences of a work environment that has trouble modeling compassion and care.”

Based on this study and their earlier work, Dr. Pololi and her initiative collaborators have begun offering mentoring programs for faculty members, both female and male, at a handful of medical schools around the country. The program involves reading, writing and regular group exercises and discussions aimed at developing leadership skills and promoting a more open environment. In the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, a preliminary survey has shown that the mentoring program, which has just begun its third year at the school, has already helped to increase the degree of trust among faculty members.

While it remains to be seen whether these changes will endure, it has become clearer that men, as well as women, stand to benefit from any improvement. “It is shocking that the situation for women in academic medicine hasn’t changed that much in the last 10 years,” Dr. Pololi said. “But it’s not always easy to notice the quality of an organization’s culture.”

She added: “That culture is like the air we breathe or the water that fish swim in. It has the potential, for better or worse, to affect everybody in the same way.”

Among Doctors, Too, Women Are Paid Less July 3, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked in academic medical centers.

The study controlled for specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions…

Result: a man *still* made an average of $12,000 more annually than a woman.

Read the original here.

Dr. Pauline Chen

Brilliant and hard-working, my younger colleague had just returned from delivering one of the main talks at a national medical meeting. All of us viewed the invitation to speak as an acknowledgment of her great potential, so when I asked her about the conference, I expected her to bubble over about the accolades she’d heard and the plum job offers she’d received from competing medical centers.

But she hardly smiled as she recounted her experiences.

“During the question-and-answer session I kept falling back on phrases like ‘maybe,’ ‘perhaps’ and ‘I guess so,’ ” she said. Though she had the experience and data to rebut even the most aggressive or erroneous challenges from doctors in the audience, her tentative manner seemed to leave her vulnerable to doubts and even more questioning.

What’s more, she added, she had noticed that many of the other female speakers responded to their audiences as she had, with wavering and hesitant replies, while most of the men answered “with such confidence and bravado that we women looked pretty amateur in comparison.”

The experience had shaken my colleague’s quiet confidence. “I always thought the strength of my work was all that mattered in medicine,” she said. “Now I can’t help but wonder if other factors are involved.”

This was not the first time I had heard a colleague speculate on how her sex might affect the way others treated her professionally, but we all thought medicine was one of the few careers in which men and women working the same hours and producing comparable results in similar specialties would be paid and promoted equally. While some studies found income disparities between male and female doctors, researchers chalked up their findings to the fact that fewer women worked in higher-paying specialties and more men worked longer hours.

But a study published recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that medicine may not be so meritocratic after all.

Researchers analyzed the professional trajectories of almost 2,000 midcareer physician-researchers. Chosen because of their similarity to one another in professional interests, aptitude and ambition, the doctors in the study each had received a highly prestigious research grant early in their careers and worked not in private practice but in academic medical centers. The researchers examined a wide range of career factors, including the number of hours worked, professional achievements, leadership positions, marital status, parental status and salary.

As in some earlier studies, the researchers found a difference in income, with a male doctor’s annual salary averaging just over $200,000 and a female’s averaging about $168,000. And like previous researchers, they found that the female doctors tended to be in lower-paying specialties, have fewer publications, work fewer hours and hold fewer administrative leadership positions.

But when these researchers ran the numbers again, this time adjusting for differences in specialty, publications, academic rank, hours worked and leadership positions, they found that the expected average salary for women still fell behind that of their male colleagues. The male doctors made over $12,000 per year more than the women. Calculated over the course of a 30-year career, the income gap based on sex alone amounted to over $350,000.

“We really didn’t expect to find such a substantial unexplained difference,” said Dr. Reshma Jagsi, lead author and an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan. “In Michigan, that amount buys you a house, your kids’ education or a nice nest egg for retirement.”

There may be several reasons for this income difference. A previous study by a group of psychologists, for example, showed that when presented with identical résumés, one from a man and one from a woman, employers of both sexes were more likely to hire the man. A similar unconscious bias is likely to exist among doctors, influencing how much female physicians are paid and promoted. “It’s not like the medical centers or the department heads are evil,” Dr. Jagsi said. “The problem is that sometimes in medicine we think we are immune to these pervasive biases.”

Male and female doctors may also interact differently with their superiors when talking about payment and promotions. Women in other fields have been shown to negotiate less aggressively than their male peers. In medicine, that would mean women are less inclined to ask for more money and less likely to leverage offers from competing institutions or practices.

While the current study looks at only one small and homogeneous subset of physicians, the findings are probably applicable to many more doctors. “The men and women we studied were the go-getters,” Dr. Jagsi said. “You have to worry that if you see such disparities among this group, you will see at least the same, if not more, differences among other groups of physicians.”

Dr. Jagsi believes that greater transparency would decrease, and even eliminate, the income differences. Currently, it is difficult for most doctors to know if they are being paid fairly “since most institutions don’t have clear policies on how to determine salaries,” she noted. But standardizing the process of compensation and career advancement would make everyone involved more accountable for such decisions and “allow men and women to be paid as much as the work they are doing is worth,” she said.

“Society makes a huge investment in every medical trainee,” Dr. Jagsi said. “If we make that kind of investment, we need to ensure that compensation and advancement are fair.”

She added, “It comes down to a matter of basic fairness.”

The Girl in Computer Science: a Google Success Story April 2, 2012

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–Steve Rosenbaum The Huffington Post

There’s plenty of talk about the need to support women in tech, and in particular math and science education for girls as they move from middle school into junior high.

But for at least one high profile woman in technology — there’s a reasonable argument to be made that education should be ‘blind’ to gender.

To understand where this comes from, you have to hear her story.

Last week at the 92nd Street Y, Marissa Mayer kept a packed house glued to the story of how a young girl growing up in Wisconsin could be essentially a ‘geek’ while at the same time being on the dance squad.

Mayer grew up in Wausau Wisconsin, a city of 40,000 about 3 1/2 hours northwest of Milwaukee. She was one of the top debaters at Wausau West High School. But she joined the dance squad as well — a geeky teenager who wanted to show that cheerleaders could be smart.

But Mayer is quick to point out that all through high school, her achievements were never characterized as ‘good for a girl.’ In fact, she is quite sure that being treated as a student, even a very smart student, rather than as the unusual girl who’s good at math and science, was critical in her success.

She went from Wausau to Stanford University, thinking that her future was in medicine. But after returning home for a break, she compared her chem and bio class work with her peers, and realized she wasn’t getting anything different than they were in various pre-med programs. She went back to Stanford looking for something unique, where she could excel and get an extraordinary education. She found herself drawn to Symbolic Systems — and ended up getting both her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence.

If being a girl in CS at Stanford was hard, Mayer says she didn’t really remember. In fact, it wasn’t until she read the student newspaper one day, that it became clear that others DID notice her for more than her brains.

“There was this columnist at The Stanford Daily that I really liked. One day she wrote this column about campus icons, meaning people you recognize but you don’t know their name, like the crazy guy in the plaza who yells at you when you bike past him. So she had this list, and I was reading through her column and kind of chuckling to myself about these people, and then there was someone on the list that was ‘the blond woman in the upper-level division computer science classes.’ And I was like, ‘Who is that?’ And then I’m like, “Oh, it’s me!” so I guess I realized at that point that I was somewhat unusual.”

So, for Mayer — looking at the world without the filter of gender was an important part of her excelling on her own terms. She says it may be better not to ask the question: is this student a girl or a boy.

“Asking the question, I worry, sometimes can handicap progress,” she said. “I lived in a bubble. I was really good at chemistry and biology [growing up]. No one ever said, ‘Wow, you’re really good at this for a girl.”

“If I felt more self-conscious about being a woman it would have stifled me more.”

That said, Mayer is clearly proud of the fact that Google has more female engineers than many of the companies in the Valley. More than 20% at this point. But she’s clearly not hiring based on a quota or a goal. At Google, she just wants the very smartest people who are will to work very very hard.

Read original post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-rosenbaum/the-girl-in-computer-scie_b_1395408.html

A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute Establishes $100,000 Translational Science Prize December 21, 2011

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 20, 2011 —

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Physician-scientists worldwide will vie for the newly established $100,000 annual Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science starting in 2012, the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute has announced.

The Taubman Prize will recognize work in the crucial field of translational research – research, like that supported by the Taubman Institute at the University of Michigan, which seeks to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients suffering from disease.

The $100,000 award will be presented at the institute’s annual symposium, held each fall, to the clinician-scientist making the most significant contribution to translating basic research findings into medical practice. The winner will be asked to serve as keynote speaker for the event.

“This awards program is the next logical step for the Taubman Institute,” said Taubman Institute Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.

“It complements our mission of supporting clinician-researchers as they strive to find cures and treatments that can move swiftly from the lab to patients, and it will bring even more eminent scientists to Ann Arbor to exchange knowledge and ideas with our Taubman Scholars and the U-M community,” says Feldman, who also is the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at U-M.

Nominations will be judged on their contribution to translating basic research findings into clinical applications and by the manner in which their clinical practice connects to their research. All clinician-scientists, regardless of country, are eligible, excluding U-M researchers.

The winner will be chosen each year by a national panel of distinguished scientists.

Self-nomination is permitted. Application guidelines and forms are online at http://www.taubmaninstitute.org; the deadline for all nominations is April 1, 2012.

About the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute: In 2007 Michigan businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman provided the initial funds to establish the institute bearing his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. Its mission is to provide the university’s finest medical scientists the freedom, resources and collaborative environment they need to push the boundaries of medical discovery, to produce breakthroughs in cures to speed the development of effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses. Currently, 16 Taubman Scholars are advancing their research with the assistance of grants from the institute, which also established the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the first embryonic stem cell facility in the state.

SOURCE University of Michigan Health System

Gustav O. Lienhard Award December 1, 2011

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The Gustav O. Lienhard Award, established in 1986, is presented annually by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in honor of Gustav O. Lienhard, Chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1986. The award–a medal and $40,000–recognizes individuals for outstanding achievement in improving health care services in the United States. Support for the award is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Each year, a selection committee appointed by the IOM reviews nominations based on selection criteria that reflect the ideals and work of Mr. Lienhard and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Nominations for the 2012 Lienhard Award will open this spring.

Albany Medical Center Prize October 4, 2011

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Frequency:  Annual

Amount:  $500,000

Description:  Albany Medical College Prize in Med and Biomed Research. This prestigious prize will be awarded each spring to a physician or scientist, or group, whose work has lead to significant advances in the fields of health care and scientific research with demonstrated translational benefits applied to improved patient care. Purpose: To encourage and recognize extraordinary and sustained contributions to improving healthcare and promoting innovative biomedical research. Eligibility: Any physician or scientist or group whose work has led to significant advances in the fields of health care and scientific research with demonstrated translational benefits applied to improved patient care.