By Kim Polacek
February 3, 2019 may be known to the masses as Super Bowl Sunday, but the day is also important to women in the medical community. In 2016, February 3 was designated as National Women Physicians Day. The date was chosen because it marks the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, a strong and influential figure who was the first American woman to hold a doctor of medicine degree, also known as an M.D.
To celebrate National Women Physicians Day, Moffitt Cancer Center launched the Women in Medicine Grand Rounds, a free educational symposium to help educate and inspire women in the field of medicine. Each year a prominent figure in the medical community is invited to speak. This year, Moffitt was honored to welcome Dr. Margaret Foti, CEO of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). She offered insights on the extraordinary contributions women have made to cancer research and care, as well as how we can all work together to tackle gender disparities in the scientific and medical fields.
“It is an enormous privilege not only to be a woman in this exciting field, but also to be in a position to help support the careers of women in oncology. Thus I was very happy to be asked to address this important and timely subject,” said Dr. Foti.
In her presentation, Dr. Foti noted the challenging landscape women face in advancing to leadership positions in scientific and medical fields. Figures tallied by the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2015 show that, though women earned nearly half of all M.D. degrees and 55 percent of life science doctorates, they accounted for only 20 percent of full professorships in these fields. Women fared no better in biotech, where they held half of all entry-level positions, but only 20 percent of leadership posts and 10 percent of board seats. Clearly, more progress needs to be made.
The Women in Medicine Grand Rounds, now in its third year, is hosted by Yvette Tremonti, executive vice president and Moffitt Chief Financial Officer, and Dr. Karen Fields, medical director of Moffitt Clinical Pathways and Value-Based Cancer Care.