Women in Academic Medicine Receives AAMC Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award

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The Women in Academic Medicine (WIAM) organization at the Miller School of Medicine has been awarded the 2021 Group on Women in Medicine and Science Organizational Leadership Award by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The annual award is given to an individual or organization that has demonstrated commitment to advocating for the professional advancement of women in medicine and science.

AAMC Leadership Award
AAMC Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award

Since its establishment in 2008, WIAM’S mission has remained the same, intending to inspire, engage, empower, and promote women faculty at the Miller School. In the following years, WIAM has further strived to work closely with women at various levels in the Miller School, including medical students, residents, leadership, faculty, and staff, to ensure a consistent pipeline of highly qualified and diverse women leaders.

Proud Achievements

Criteria for the award involves contributions in leadership, advocacy, and development, which WIAM has strongly built in the 2020–2021 nomination period under the leadership of current president Asha B. Pillai, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, microbiology, and immunology.

“I joined WIAM due to a combination of my experiences as a woman physician-scientist at this institution and my long-standing commitment to equity in academia,” Dr. Pillai said. “I was introduced to WIAM by Dr. Holly Neville, past WIAM vice president, and Rose von Zuilen, both of whom created a nurturing environment in the organization. Here I was welcomed, and my leadership valued. That is the legacy of belonging we will carry forward.”

WIAM also consists of current vice president Marilyn Huang, M.D., M.S., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and director of translational gynecologic oncology research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center; WIAM immediate past president Rose van Zuilen, Ph.D., associate professor of professional practice. WIAM is supported programmatically by Janet Bringuez-Sanchez, M.Ed., assistant director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (ODICE); and early WIAM member Nanette Vega, Ed.D., assistant dean for ODICE.

This year, the organization started the Women in Academic Medicine Leadership and Professional Development Symposium, rated highly by over 140 faculty, trainees, and staff. The event included presentations by prominent women leaders in the Miller School with keynote speaker Charlene E. Le Fauve, Ph.D., senior advisor to the National Institutes of Health chief officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. WIAM furthered its progress in 2021 by introducing two new committees, the WIAM Committee on Equity to enhance and support Black faculty and other under-represented groups, and the WIAM Committee on International Graduates, tasked with representation and advocacy for all individuals from outside the United States who come to train/work at the Miller School.

In 2020, WIAM co-published a book, “Luminaries: Profiles of Women in Academic Medicine” to provide inspiration and guidance to the next generation of women in academic medicine. A series of autobiographic vignettes, the book shares courageous journeys of women from diverse backgrounds who overcame significant obstacles to become leaders in academic medicine. As the nation dealt with the need for urgency and attention to political and racial injustices, WIAM members served in every subcommittee of the Dean’s Task Force on Racial Justice, contributing, and developing five-year roadmaps with specific interval metrics for accountability.

Culture Change

WIAM’s effort extends to data-driven evaluations of how the Miller School can improve and support its women in medicine. The group has helped to establish dedicated rooms for breastfeeding across the medical campus, raise awareness of and defend childcare options, provide training in unconscious bias and cultural awareness, and implement several sexual assault prevention and response programs.

Forward Progress

WIAM will continue its momentum by partnering with other organizations to expand its reach and impact, including the Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development and ODICE.

“WIAM is a tight-knit community of women academics that 'walks the talk.' WIAM lives its motto - 'Get Inspired; Get Empowered; Get Engaged' - every day,” Dr. Pillai said. “That is the legacy of active engagement that WIAM will push for as we move forward. The AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award recognizes the myriad daily activities, both past and present, a few seen and so many  unseen, that allow women in academia to not just survive but thrive. It also serves as a profound encouragement to us to move forward in solidarity and strength to create the environment we wish to see. I represent all of my colleagues in thanking the AAMC GWIMS for this incredible honor."

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