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Women in Medicine Month: Women as Leaders in Academic Medicine

Women as Leaders in Academic Medicine

The AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) is proud to celebrate Women in Medicine Month! Each week in the month of September we will feature spotlights and leadership lessons from women in educator, scientist, leadership, and physician roles.

Women as Leaders in Academic Medicine Spotlight

Leila Amiri, PhD

“The number of women pursuing medicine is on the rise and I look forward to the time when the number of women leaders in medicine proportionately matches the students that we train. The day that everyone involved in medical education has an equal voice is the day that we can really begin the work on addressing disparities in healthcare in our country. In this month, and every month, recognize and applaud all of the women who have paved the way for us today so that we may follow in their steps and work on a stronger and more equitable tomorrow.”

Leila Amiri, PhD
Assistant Dean for Admissions & Recruitment
Honors College Faculty Fellow
University of Illinois 
College of Medicine

Marlene Ballejos, MPA, PhD

“From molding our families, to addressing racial and gender inequities, to being the change agents for social justice, to bringing bold new ideas and unique perspectives that challenge conventional thinking, to celebrating our differences, honoring and acknowledging our accomplishments and supporting each other, women continue to have huge impacts on our communities, institutions and nation through their extraordinary leadership.”

Marlene Ballejos, MPA, PhD
Assistant Dean for Admissions, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Department of Family & Community Medicine

MéLisa Best

“Women in Medicine Month is as much a celebration of the extraordinary women in the field, as it is a sobering reminder that there’s still more work to do. As leaders in academic medicine, I believe it is our responsibility to be committed to achieving both equity and excellence—which go hand-in-hand—in our institutions, and to empower all who are underrepresented in science and medicine to continue rising, believing, and creating pathways for success.”

MéLisa Best
Communications and Marketing Manager, Medical Education
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Paloma Cariello

“Academic medicine needs women in leadership positions. As a Latina immigrant, physician, and educator, I am an advocate for representation in leadership, driven to create an inclusive environment and raise awareness that it's a shared responsibility. In order to achieve a diverse, equitable, and inclusive academia, we all need to engage and do the work.”

Paloma Cariello, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
University of Utah School of Medicine

Wendy Clark

“Women make up more than 50% of the population in the United States but just over a quarter of the members of Congress. As leaders in medical education, medicine and science, we have no choice but to lead by example for those who will one day make decisions for all women.”

Wendy Clark
Financial Aid Administrator
University of Utah School of Medicine

Jennifer Dennis, PhD

“As a Hispanic, female faculty member in medical education, a key theme for me is the mentorship and disparity of women and women of color in leadership and administration. I believe other female faculty and staff cannot underestimate the role they have in being the sole representation for any one student: female, male, or non-binary. We must increase our representation by modeling leadership behaviors for our underserved students now, and provide a clear example of how to approach difficult conversations, manage deadlines, and demonstrate vulnerability. It is imperative that we serve as empathetic, communicative, and committed leaders, so that our students have increased success in future opportunities!”

Jennifer Dennis, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences
Kansas City University

Guadalupe Federico-Martinez, PhD

“Women in Medicine Month is a time reflect and stand in appreciation of all the efforts of both women and men before us. We celebrate those whose wide, strong, courageous, and vision-bond shoulders we have stood on to progress leadership in academic medicine forward.  And, to give back to our youth, our future female leaders, we model our best leadership efforts with resilience, poise, partnership, and integrity. This month also intersects with Hispanic Heritage month. As a female Latinx leader, I remind you; look around and note the positive progress to stay fueled. ‘Si, se puede!’”

Guadalupe Federico-Martinez, PhD
Assistant Dean, Faculty Affairs and Career Development and Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix

Natalie Johnson, DHA

“The contributions of the female giants on whose shoulders we stand have paved the way for us to serve as leaders and contribute to ethnic, race, and gender diversity in medicine.  We must always lead with compassion, grace, determination and most importantly, passion.  As we celebrate Women in Medicine Month, I am reminded to lift as I climb, and I am grateful for the mighty women that continue to lift us all.  I challenge all women in medicine to lift as you climb and strive to make a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Natalie Johnson, DHA
Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs
Medical University of South Carolina, College of Medicine

Lina Mehta, MD

“We have made many strides as women in medicine, and stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. But we still have much work to do, for superimposed on these gains are backslides. The pandemic and shifting political forces have highlighted the inequities for all women, particularly those from marginalized communities and underrepresented backgrounds and as physicians we have a responsibility not just to ourselves, but to our patients. Women in Medicine and Science month reminds us of our ability to effect change for all and to fight for equity at all levels.”

Lina Mehta, MD
Associate Dean for Admissions
Professor of Radiology
Case Western Reserve School of Medicine
Chair, National Committee on Admissions

Sunny Nakae, MSW, PhD

“I invite you to demonstrate commitment to gender equity by critically examining the policies and structures at your institution and engaging in change efforts. What resources exist to facilitate academic advancement and promotion for women?  Are women, including BIPOC women, represented and empowered in leadership and decision-making? Are there safe and effective bias & harassment incident response protocols? Is there compensation equity? Celebrate women in medicine through actions that promote gender equity and inclusion. Practicing equity is a prerequisite for achieving excellence.”

Sunny Nakae, MSW, PhD
Senior Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Partnership
Associate Professor of Medical Education
California University of Science and Medicine

Tamara N. Poulson

“I have witnessed transformational conversations between women in medicine and rising female healthcare leaders. These moments are the movements that will continue to help improve the health and equity of our communities.”

Tamara N. Poulson
Director of Alumni Relations
Eastern Virginia Medical School

Olga Rodríguez de Arzola, MD, FAAP

“Leading in academic medicine is a great honor, privilege, and responsibility. As a minority woman, I accepted the challenge to lead, and I am proud of my accomplishments and those of my team. During current times, we must advocate for gender, ethnic and racial equity and inclusiveness. We also need to eliminate barriers to women's advancement. I encourage ALL women in medicine to embrace leadership: prepare to lead, seek leadership positions, and accept the challenge. You will surely make a difference!”

Olga Rodríguez de Arzola, MD, FAAP
Dean of the School of Medicine    
Ponce Health Sciences University

Sylk Sotto-Santiago, EdD, MBA, MPS

“I admire women leaders who measure their success by the number of people they lift up in their careers, promote, mentor, and sponsor.
There is room in the academy to be creative and follow shared leadership models that embraces women of color and do not weaponize their taxation. It is critical that we further inclusion excellence through all of academic medicine and view leadership from an equity lens. This includes the times we have been complicit and the times that we are living the change we want.”

Sylk Sotto-Santiago, EdD, MBA, MPS
Vice-chair for Faculty Affairs, Development, and Diversity
Indiana University School of Medicine

Beatriz Tapia

“This month, we are reminded of all the great women leaders before us who worked hard to advocate,  advance science and make medicine more inclusive for everyone. I ask you, what are you doing to support this exact cause? As women leaders, we have twice the responsibility to continue this mission forward and not regress to past practices but continue with passion and commitment towards excellence in medicine.”

Beatriz Tapia, MD, EdD, MPH
Assistant Dean of Faculty Development
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley - School of Medicine

Kim Templeton, MD

“Women have the skills to be leaders and should be encouraged to achieve leadership roles. We are doing a great job of getting more women into medical careers; however, there is a leaky pipeline, in part due to women physicians, especially those in mid-career, seeing few opportunities to advance careers. To limit attrition and to benefit from the knowledge and leadership abilities of women physicians, those in positions of authority in academic medicine should continue to open doors to leadership opportunities for women of all backgrounds and support us once we attain these positions.”

Kim Templeton, MD
Professor, Orthopedic Surgery
University of Kansas Medical Center

Sharon White

“More women in the academic medicine field has not resulted in more women acquiring leadership roles. It is imperative that women leaders in academic medicine continue to use our voices to lead the charge on how organizations can better connect with, market to, and recruit diverse talent.”

Sharon White
Director, Leadership Annual Giving
Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs

Events and Resources

GWIMS Business Meeting and Leadership Award Ceremony

November 5 - 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET

Come join us to recognize GWIMS’ accomplishments over the last year and to celebrate our leadership award winners!


Join us on Social Media

To show your support for women in medicine month (#WiMmonth), please consider sharing the suggested tweet below (or RT from @AAMCtoday’s account):
I support women in medicine. RT if you do, too. #WIMmonth #GWIMS

Rebecca Crumpler, the first African American woman to get an M.D. in 1864

GWIM Resources

The GWIMS Toolkit is a series of presentations designed to provide practical guidance on a variety of topics relevant to women faculty in academic medicine. Each presentation provides an overview of the topic, relevant best practices, tips on implementation, and useful references for more information.

GWIMS Toolkits are useful resources that will help advance women in leadership roles.

GWIMS Toolkit

Join GWIMS Today