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The Department of Medicine Gender Equity Council (GEC) advises the Department Chair on matters related to gender equity, makes recommendations to ensure an equitable and inclusive environment in the department, and plans and implements activities that promote gender equity.

Women Physicians in History

Dr. Elizabeth BlackwellFebruary 3, 2021 marked the 4th observance of National Women Physician Day – a day of remembrance of the birthday of the first woman medical doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and of celebration of women and their contributions in the medical field.

Dr. Blackwell received her medical doctorate degree from Geneva Medical College, later Hobart College, in 1849. She was joined in 1864 by Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first Black woman medical doctor, upon the conferring of her MD from the New England Female Medical College, later Boston University School of Medicine.

Since this time, women have made strides into a field historically and staunchly dominated by men. Women have made numerous contributions to medical science, including basic science discoveries, characterization of diseases and the pioneering of diagnostics and treatments, view the Women in Medicine Hall of Fame for more.  While today, men doctors still make up the majority of physicians, medical schools are roughly equal in graduating women and men with even higher rates of women students seen in the last few years.

A changing tide

Dr. Barbara JungIn 2019, Dr. Barbara Jung was appointed as the first female chair of the Department of Medicine in its more than 70-year history.

“I am committed to creating a workplace and clinical environment that focuses on gender equity and the prevention of sexual and gender harassment,” she says. “We need to promote an inclusive environment across the department for all to be successful.”

In 2020, Dr. Jung hosted a screening of the film “Picture a Scientist” – a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists – and moderated a discussion following the film, which led to the formation of the inaugural Department of Medicine Gender Equity Council. This initiative was met with resounding enthusiasm, with over 60 volunteers for council membership.

Susan Merel, Steph TimmDr. Susan Merel and Steph Timm co-chair the GEC and there are 13 standing members, as well as ex-officio members (view full list of council members).

“I am thrilled to be involved in the inaugural Gender Equity Council and very honored to be asked to help lead it,” said Dr. Merel. “I hope to work closely with the Diversity Council and LGBTQ+ Council to help build a more equitable Department of Medicine.”

“The GEC will be working on finding ways to support, retain, and provide opportunities for career advancement and leadership training for women and gender minorities,” explains Timm.

“We will be examining conditions of employment such as compensation and work environment, creating best practices for recruitment, identifying and seeking solutions related to the support of employees with families, increasing the visibility and accessibility of women and gender minorities, and working with the LGBTQ+ Council to develop strategies for creating a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees.”

The newly formed GEC has only begun its work, starting with hosting another screening of Picture a Scientist on March 26. The council will be collecting data and reaching out across the department to work with all genders on the united goals of ensuring an equitable and inclusive environment and promoting gender equity in the Department of Medicine.