The Elizabeth Blackwell Society (EBS) is a student run group, within the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of women in medicine, providing tools and support for women to address the unique challenges they face in medicine, and fostering relationships between faculty and students. Our author, Lauren Beck, is a Bioengineering PhD student in the HHMI Interfaces Program at Penn and is currently immersed in the medical school curriculum. After attending the Matriarchs of Penn Medicine event, she shares what resonated most with her.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
- Dr. Gail Morrison
Never say no to opportunities, you never know where they’ll take you.”
- Dr. Emma Meagher
I think this is really important to remember on a daily basis. I think many aspiring women scientists and physicians, myself included, worry about the exact steps needed to achieve that universally-desired-but-seemingly-impossible work-life balance. While high achieving careers demand a lot of foresight and planning, to a certain extent maybe it’s a little silly to worry over it so much.
The opportunities present themselves or you create them.”
- Dr. Cindy Christian
I also think this reflects one of the truly great things about the US. The US has an abundance of top tier institutions that are constantly redefining the state of the art in STEM/M (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine). If there is something you want to do, it’s here. And if it’s not, we’ve got the resources and talent to start doing it.
I’m frequently the only woman at the table, still.”
- Dr. Iris Reyes
A recent study suggests that women are less likely to pursue STEM careers in fields where innate intelligence is valued over hard work. This might explain why females are generally better represented in biology, where results are often assumed to be the progeny of long hours and late nights in the lab, than mathematics, where progress is stereotypically considered to be the result of a solitary genius. Lately there has been a lot of speculation as to whether female underrepresentation is a reflection of factors like different academic interests and the desire to work more flexible family-oriented hours. This study also suggests that these factors only account for a small amount of the differences in male and female representation.
It’s not yet clear what factors are driving the underrepresentation of women in STEM/M, and the jury is still out on how to best correct these differences. However, hearing these accomplished women speak so openly about their experiences gives me confidence to continue down this path, even if I'm still just opening up the map to chart my course.