Women in Leadership

Ruth Kirschstein, M.D.

National Institutes of Health

SPEAKER INTRODUCTION

SALLY SHAYWITZ, M.D., CHAIR, AXXS STEERING COMMITTEE

We have talked a lot about the role of National Institutes of Health and how much the NIH has accomplished, and so it is only fitting that our next speaker is a wonderful representative of the NIH, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, deputy director of the NIH and until recently its acting director. Dr. Kirschstein has served as director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and as acting associate director of the NIH for research on women’s health. She has received many honors and awards, most recently the Albert B. Sabin Heroes of Science Award from the Americans for Medical Progress Education Foundation. She was also recognized by the Anti-Defamation League, which bestowed upon her the Woman of Achievement Award. We’re honored to welcome her and hear her comments.

DR. KIRSCHSTEIN:

I want to thank you so much for inviting me to address this workshop. The excellent report on the first workshop, AXXS ’99, serves as a base to follow up on, as does the work of all the people serving on the planning groups and the many planning activities that have occurred over many years. Indeed, as one reviews the work of these many groups, it should be noted that all of them are made up of people who have been doing this for a very long time.



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Achieving XXCellence in Science: Role of Professional Societies in Advancing Women in Science - Proceedings of a Workshop AXXS 2002 Women in Leadership Ruth Kirschstein, M.D. National Institutes of Health SPEAKER INTRODUCTION SALLY SHAYWITZ, M.D., CHAIR, AXXS STEERING COMMITTEE We have talked a lot about the role of National Institutes of Health and how much the NIH has accomplished, and so it is only fitting that our next speaker is a wonderful representative of the NIH, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, deputy director of the NIH and until recently its acting director. Dr. Kirschstein has served as director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and as acting associate director of the NIH for research on women’s health. She has received many honors and awards, most recently the Albert B. Sabin Heroes of Science Award from the Americans for Medical Progress Education Foundation. She was also recognized by the Anti-Defamation League, which bestowed upon her the Woman of Achievement Award. We’re honored to welcome her and hear her comments. DR. KIRSCHSTEIN: I want to thank you so much for inviting me to address this workshop. The excellent report on the first workshop, AXXS ’99, serves as a base to follow up on, as does the work of all the people serving on the planning groups and the many planning activities that have occurred over many years. Indeed, as one reviews the work of these many groups, it should be noted that all of them are made up of people who have been doing this for a very long time.

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Achieving XXCellence in Science: Role of Professional Societies in Advancing Women in Science - Proceedings of a Workshop AXXS 2002 As I was thinking through what I might say to you, I did something over the long holiday weekend that I haven’t had much time to do for quite some time—I indulged myself by reading a weekday, albeit Independence Day, issue of the New York Times. Lo and behold, there I found the theme for my talk today, on the first page. The headline read “Many Women Taking Leadership Roles at Colleges.” My friend and colleague Shirley Tilghman was featured in this article. The Times said that in the year since she has assumed the role of president of Princeton University, the previously male-dominated university and an Ivy League school, she has appointed four women to top administrative posts, and she has retained and reappointed one more who had been appointed by her predecessor. In just a tad more than the 30 years since Princeton opened its doors to women for the first time, says the Times, “the changes at Princeton are a signal moment, or an occasion to take stock of the fundamental shift but also to think about how much more is left to be done, in terms of senior faculty and administrative positions.” For years, those of us in leadership positions who were women had always assumed—and we still do—that mentoring and nurturing were essential to the development of careers for women in academia, government, or even business. We believed that for women to move up the chain it was essential that they move along in such a way that they could assume positions of leadership, accruing more and more power. In other words, we believed that women in higher positions followed an orderly path of advancement. Indeed, that is usually what happens. But Shirley Tilghman points out that in these times we perhaps need another course, a concerted effort to find women for the top positions. As the Times quoted Shirley, “Twenty-two percent of the faculty but only 14 percent of the faculty of women are full professors.” The key was to appoint more women administrators to build on the women who are presidents of key universities and colleges. It’s with immense pride that we can now say that we have 11 women presidents at major universities and colleges. That was the subject of an article published in Newsweek magazine, just four days before the New York Times article. Just four days, indeed, before Independence Day. What a wonderful way for women to celebrate their independence. These women are Hannah Gray, Jill Conway, Nan Keohane, Donna Shalala, Jonetta Cole, Ruth Simmons, Judy Rodin, Shirley Jackson, Mary Sue Coleman, Nancy Cantor, and Shirley Tilghman herself. All have a network and all have had, in one way or another, a hand in mentoring others. In addition, they frequently talk to each other. They have learned to cover the full spectrum, from top administrators all the way down to burgeoning faculty. They start with the assumption that too few women hold high-level faculty positions and therefore are unable, supposedly, to see that there are more goals they can attain. Some of these women could be appointed to those high levels

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Achieving XXCellence in Science: Role of Professional Societies in Advancing Women in Science - Proceedings of a Workshop AXXS 2002 early and be taken a chance on, so to speak, because they undoubtedly will be able to perform. Men have known that for a very long time. There are many examples of individuals who have been chosen for a major position, somebody who did not necessarily move up the chain. We as women need to maintain our ability to go out there and find the talent. We need to keep people in mind for these kinds of major positions. We also need to do something about the major problem, as you’ve heard all through this workshop, of what we are going to do about child care in the United States. Other countries have solved this problem. We so far have not been able to do so. But all of us working together must forge the answer to this very vexing problem. Finally, we must strive to stop placing the modifier in front of the noun. To stop referring to a “woman” president or a “woman” dean; she is a president or she is a dean. If we do that, I think we will set the stage for some of the things we really want to see happen. With that and through what I hope will be a continued set of workshops, we will build on success that modifies itself constantly for more and more women in those top positions and others as well.

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