When women lead, cultures change.

We believe that when 30-40% of the leaders in academic medicine and science are women, the barriers that hinder so many of us from advancing in academia and science will improve.

As a group of women with years of experience as senior leaders in academic medicine and science, we’ve learned the greatest barriers to change are our institutional and professional cultures. They’re handed down from one generation to the next—and those who didn’t have a say in how those cultures were formed are often left aside.

Overwhelmingly, until now, the leaders of our institutions have been men. And until more women join their ranks, true change will remain out of reach.

The level we’re shooting for is not arbitrary. Social science studies indicate that organizations change when enough voices from new groups join a conversation. Studies show that in many cases, this tipping point is around 30-40%.

In our profession, that’s the point when the systemic challenges women face every day will begin to improve. That’s the point when salary equity and reasonable family leave is inculcated into the culture. That’s the point when entrenched microaggressions and inherent biases that overtly and subtly damage women’s careers will begin to become part of the past. That is the point when sponsorships, networks, and mentors are readily available for all.

To accelerate the process, CWAMS is engaged in three approaches:

  • Develop a national network, called The Faculty Network, to help women advance.
  • Create a new group for women in senior leadership positions, known as the Organization of Women Leaders (OWL).
  • Support the work of academic medicine institutions to spur metrics-driven change from within through events like The Time is Now.

Rita Levi-Montalcini
1986 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, paid it forward by her foundation dedicated to support education of girls and women in Africa.

Daria Kirpach/Salzman International
Courtesy of Wellcome

The Faculty Network helps you:

  • Gain access to sponsors and mentors. Even if you work in a supportive environment, you may have difficulty finding individuals in your field or specialty who can help you advance. We can help you understand what it takes to move forward in the system and support you in finding others willing to work with you.
  • Find support for everyday challenges. How do you negotiate a salary or better access resources for your position?  Need opportunities to gain visibility for your work in the national arena?  The network can help you navigate these questions and others in the context of your own ambitions.
Get Involved

MicroRNA scaffold cancer therapy
MicroRna with a synthetic polymer forms a stable woven structure, like a net.

João Conde, Nuria Oliva And Natalie Artzi, Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT)
Courtesy of Wellcome

The Organization for Women Leaders (OWL) offers peer support for women in leadership roles.

The road doesn’t get easier once you’ve “made it”—as hard as it is to climb the ladder, it’s just as hard to remain and thrive in a leadership role. And because there are so few women in these positions, it can be hard to find others with whom you can connect. We bring women leaders together to share experiences and solutions to common problems, and gain access to other necessary support. We enable you to find someone on “speed dial” when needs arise.

Sometimes, women lose opportunities and never understand why. We’ve climbed high enough to recognize the obstacles—and the ways past them.

Ali’s Owl

Ali, Age 9

Institutional change through data:

Countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are making progress in advancing opportunities for women in their academic institutions through national programs that reward continuous self-improvement. Looking at your own institution in a systematic, ongoing, peer-reviewed way, we believe, will create true change for all – so that members of all communities can do their best work, advance more rapidly in science and patient care, and realize their highest potential. We collaborated with the New York Stem Cell Foundation and AAAS SEA Change to organize a conversation with deans about the state of gender equity data-collection and what remains to be done to ensure institutions have the tools they need to prioritize this critical work.

CWAMS Network

#breastcancer Twitter connections
Graphical visualization of data extracted from tweets containing  #breastcancer.

Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns, Royal College Of Surgeons In Ireland
Courtesy of Wellcome