Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia

Summit Explores Women’s Leadership and Inequities in Medicine and Dentistry

By on 11/05/2021

Half of all the students in medical school today are female, but statistics show women still lag behind men in salary and promotions as their careers as clinicians and academics progress. Einstein Healthcare Network recently held an inaugural event to explore those gender inequities and begin to address strategies for change.

“Women are 80% of the healthcare work force, but they lead 19% of the hospitals and 4% of healthcare companies,” Dixie James, President and Chief Operating Officer of Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, told the attendees.

 “Male physicians make $1.25 for every $1 female physicians make. Women with 10 years’ experience as department chairs earn $127,411 less a year than their male peers.”

James noted those “sobering numbers” in her speech at the inaugural Women in Medicine and Dentistry Leadership Summit in Gouley Auditorium at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

Mindy Horrow, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Radiology and an organizer of the event, said the mission was to “discuss barriers, issues and concerns” among women physicians, and to explore strategies for change.

Dr. Horrow emphasized that “ascending the academic ladder” is a “crucial part of developing a pathway to leadership. To become a department chair or a vice chair requires a variety of abilities and talents and proven work, and that includes an academic component,” she said.

Women also can build credentials through leadership in their professional associations, Dr. Horrow said. 

Dr. Horrow planned the seminal event, along with Kimberly Best, MD, Associate Chair of the Department of Psychiatry; Sara Perloff, DO, an infectious disease specialist; Lynn Unikel, PhD, research educator, and Merle Carter, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

The summit was planned to “bring women physicians and dentists together and begin the path towards leadership through development of academic activities and publications,” Dr. Horrow said. Grants from Einstein’s Development Office and Medical Staff Board provided funding.

Dr. Carter was presented the Albert Einstein Society’s 2021 Physician Leadership Award at the event by Emergency Medicine Department Chair Elizabeth Datner, MD.

Beverly Coleman, MD, Chair of Fetal Imaging at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an emeritus professor at Penn Medicine, was the keynote speaker.

She described her journey from growing up in “a small town in Arkansas” to her current position as the first African American president of the American College of Radiology, citing “character, courage and commitment” as some of the traits that helped her succeed.   

The meeting closed with a panel discussion and an exploration of creating an Einstein Reciprocity Ring, a format for colleagues to share their “collective knowledge, networks and energy” – as the professor who invented the concept put it – to help each other succeed.

“We hope to encourage women to ascend the academic ladder so they can be promoted to chairs and vice chairs of their departments, be presidents and leaders of their professional societies, be asked to lecture and bring back what they learn to this institution,” Dr. Horrow said.

James said the summit, which took place on Oct. 18, could help drive change.

“Out of days like this, we can collectively sit back, think about what needs to be done and figure out a path to make sure that things don’t remain looking like the way they do today,” she said.

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