SUMMARIES > KEYNOTE ADDRESS: INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGIES AND POLICIES FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF FEMALE LEADERS
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YVONNE MADDOX, PhD
Deputy Director NICHD, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
TUEI DOONG, MA
Deputy Director, Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, Office of Minority Health, Rockville, MD
Women need to figure out how best to create new paths of opportunity in academia, industry, and government,"said Dr. Maddox. "In this quest, we need to include paths to tenure, deanships, chairmanships, the Senior Executive Service, heads of agencies, and presidencies. New paths must not be limited to the sciences if the problems that affect all women are to be solved."
Women not only need intellectual support, they need recognition for achievement, and not just in R&D, but in administration, management, and policy, said Dr. Maddox.
A 1994 conference brought 52 of the US's leading women together to create a "foundation for an action plan that would advance women's leadership," said Dr. Maddox. Despite coming from diverse fields, ranging from business owners to corporate executives to award winning researchers, they all agreed that women were seriously under represented in most disciplines, especially at the top, that new initiatives were needed to warm up the career climate-for women scientists in particular-and that action was needed at the highest level to advance more women, especially into leadership positions.
At the time, women represented only 39% of the scientific workforce, and 20% of practicing physicians," said Dr. Maddox. "But currently only 3% of medical deanships are occupied by women." And only two of every ten executives in the Federal executive branch are women. "When you think about what's happening as it relates to women of color, you can realize that the number is egregious," she said. Increased accountability is needed in private and federal organizations.
Not only are more top-ranking women needed, more women and minorities are needed on search committees. "What's wrong with having a majority of women on a search committee?" Dr. Maddox demanded rhetorically. And when women are recruited, offers should include spousal packages for husbands.
Dr. Maddox spoke complementarily of Congresswoman Constance Morella's efforts on behalf of the Building, Engineering, and Scientific Talent (BEST) initiative, which Dr. Maddox said was "put in place to eliminate barriers to recruitment and to look at the advancement of under represented minorities in science and engineering... She wanted to sensitize employers to the need to recruit and retain people in the workforce, particularly women and minorities, and she wanted to look at this whole retention perspective from the idea that women needed to be uplifted because women had specific needs."
Mentoring systems are important, because being associated with a high quality mentor can provide extra visibility. The lack of women in the highest eschelons has to do with institutional barriers to women, but also to the lack of practical advice we need to plan career advancement.
We need to... network, interact, listen to others, speak to others, and find out how we all got where we are today, and have a good feeling for where we all want to go... this conference is about more than just how do we build leaders. It's really how do we sustain leaders.
Women of color need to be speakers and planners, said Maddox. "We want to hear their ideas.
Dr. Maddox had important advice on setting priorities and goals, and being ready for change:
- Once you decide what you want to lead, you need to give that activity your fullest attention... trying to cover too much is a way to get into trouble. You will not be credited as a leader unless you are recognized for something.
- You need to set goals and priorities, and you have to be willing to say, "what am I going to give up."
- A burned out leader is painful to watch, so don't take on too much.
- You've got to think about the culture of the organization that you're leading.
- It helps to have statistics on the position of women and minorities in your organization.
- If you feel good about your work but the organizational culture is blocking you, you need to leave that organization.
- You need to have a curriculum vitae that's ready all the time, and it needs to... [have] some bells and whistles... You have to really sell yourself, and if you don't know how... get professional help.