Published On May 10, 2018
WOMEN HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES in medicine. But many female researchers still face the “motherhood penalty” when they have children—an ebbing of opportunity and resources that often cause them to put their careers on hold.
Nancy Tarbell, a noted pediatric oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs at Harvard Medical School, discusses the gender gap that persists in medicine and what institutions can do to support women and their work, especially during child-rearing years. “It’s quite a juggling act,” says Tarbell. “You’re trying to establish yourself as a physician and establish your academic career at the same time that you’re trying to balance your family and patients.”
Every year since 1997, MGH has presented a series of Claflin Distinguished Scholar awards designed to help women scientists with children advance to senior positions in academic medicine. In this episode, Daphne Holt, a neurobiologist and psychiatrist at MGH, and 2014 winner of the Claflin, explains how the award effectively served as a “second pair of hands,” allowing her to be a great mom and excel at her career. “The problem is that when you’re a parent, particularly when you’re a mother, you really have two jobs,” she says. “So something has to go.” But with the proper investments and accommodations, that doesn’t always have to be the case.
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