Advancing Women in Science

An eager audience of women and men gathered at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to hear NYSCF CEO and Co-founder Susan L. Solomon share NYSCF’s latest actions towards gender equality. Ms. Solomon kicked off the 2016 event series for the Mount Sinai initiative Women in Science and Medicine (WiSM). In her keynote address on “Actionable Strategies for Advancing Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine,” Ms. Solomon engaged the energetic crowd speaking passionately on the issues closest to her.

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An eager audience of women and men gathered at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to hear NYSCF CEO and Co-founder Susan L. Solomon share NYSCF’s latest actions towards gender equality. Ms. Solomon kicked off the 2016 event series for the Mount Sinai initiative Women in Science and Medicine (WiSM). In her keynote address on “Actionable Strategies for Advancing Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine,” Ms. Solomon engaged the energetic crowd speaking passionately on the issues closest to her.

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Dean Dr. Dennis S. Charney, a father of four daughters, introduced Ms. Solomon and spoke about the importance of gender equality in STEM fields and his efforts to enhance parity including appointing five female chairs in his time as dean. Applauding Ms. Solomon’s efforts as a patient advocate and leader in the field of biomedical research, Dr. Charney emphasized that due to Ms. Solomon’s work New York State developed a program to fund stem cell research, NYSTEM.

In Berkeley in 1969, she first started developing the language to discuss gender inequality in a consciousness raising group. “It’s kind of amazing to me that we’re still having these conversations… but you know, it takes a long time to change and we just have to be diligent,” Ms. Solomon observed as she emphasized that the conversation needs to transform into actionable items — steps that can move science, engineering and medicine towards greater equity. “They had to be recommendations that no more than 2 of them could cost money to implement, because otherwise it was going to be too hard.”

Of the non-fiscal recommendations for achieving more equitable gender representation, discussion of “implicit bias” resonated with the audience. In her address, Ms. Solomon noted that having women present where decisions on grant applications, speaker invitations for conferences, and hiring help perpetuate equality. Additionally, having an “implicit bias” statement, that one audience member asked for NYSCF to share, also helped juries to debunk their own biases. “Say that gender equality matters,” Ms. Solomon urged. Discussing bias, trying to make implicit biases transparent, signals a willingness to move towards parity.

During the question and answer portion, women reached out to Ms. Solomon to further shed light on the unspoken biases surrounding gender and asked pertinent personal questions about how to move ahead within their own careers. Ms. Solomon responded to a question from a young woman in medicine asking how organizational policies can apply to individuals telling the audience to “develop a champion.” Ms. Solomon advised women to seek out mentors and sponsors, to learn who will be in the room making decisions and ensure that someone will “pound the table for you” to help secure promotions, raises, appointments. “Success begets success,” she advocated.

Looking to the future, Ms. Solomon spoke about the next NYSCF Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering (IWISE) meeting in February. Previously, NYSCF developed an institutional report card to hold universities and organizations accountable for gender equality. In February, the IWISE Working Group will convene and discuss how to standardize the report card and implement its use in making grant decisions. IWISE will also consider questions of intellectual property thinking about how more men create companies spinning out their research than women as well as examining the lack of female representation on corporate boards. Excitingly, since Ms. Solomon’s conception of IWISE, the idea has gained momentum and is inundated with requests to join. Ms. Solomon hopes to find a way for the public to participate and help close the gender gap.

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