President’s Perspective: Women in the Texas Medical Center
March is Women’s History Month, and in this issue of Pulse you’ll find stories about several women at the Texas Medical Center. Some have spent decades as leaders in their respective fields; some are just starting out.
I’ve had opportunities to work alongside some incredible women. At Stanford, I knew Dr. Frances Conley, a great neurosurgeon and the first female tenured professor of neurosurgery in the country. Conley was really tough—not only on the women, but on the men. She resigned from Stanford in 1991 to protest sexist attitudes and sexual harassment on the job, but rescinded her resignation after the university promised to make changes in policies and procedures. Her book about the gender discrimination she experienced, Walking Out on the Boys, should be required reading for everyone in medicine.
Over my career, I have witnessed sexism—without question. But I believe we are seeing progress.
There’s been a big push to get girls involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and the TMC should be very proud that we’ve hosted several events on this topic. We brought in middle school counselors from all over Texas to discuss the importance of encouraging young girls to pursue careers in science and math.
And we’re surrounded by female superstars at the TMC. Dr. Huda Zoghbi is one of the most prominent neuroscientists in the world. And what about Dr. Laura Petersen, director of the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, and associate chief of staff for research at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center? She leads a large research center that had more than $15 million in funding last year from both federal agencies and private foundations.
The TMC is filled with women who serve as inspiration to colleagues and younger generations.