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ICYMI: Women in Health, Medicine, & Science Town Hall

On Thursday, January 26th, Women in Health, Medicine, & Science (WiHMS) held a town hall and social at the University of Utah Guest House. It was the first large-scale in-person WiHMS event since the beginning of the pandemic.

A panel of women leaders from across the health sciences and main campus spoke to our audience of faculty, staff, and students about the path they took to get to their current roles, the value of women in leadership, ways in which our institution is succeeding at creating a gender inclusive environment, and the challenges that still lie ahead of us.

On the topic of paths to leadership, Heather Nyman, PharmD, spoke of her experiences with role models and mentors who helped encourage her to take on her current role as Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion at the College of Pharmacy. Through these supporters, she recognized that her passions and interests outside of traditional clinical responsibilities could be harnessed into a leadership role and the ability to bring a new perspective to the table.

As the panel spoke about areas of opportunity to increase recruitment of women in faculty and staff positions, Heidi Greenberg, Associate Director of Operations & Logistics for the Eccles Health Sciences Library, discussed how at EHSL, the recruitment and retention issues related to gender are different as libraries, on the whole, are majority women. However, pay equity issues persist because the field is gendered and therefore has historically been undervalued.

Pay equity was a big topic of the evening as all panelists spoke about the actions being taken to remedy this persistent issue and how salary inequity continues to pop back up despite making fixes. Regular auditing to ensure that pay equity continues and uncovering causes for why the inequities return are part of the steps being taken in the School of Dentistry, with Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Jeri Bullock, DDS, as part of the team. And our Associate Vice President for Research-Health Sciences, Rachel Hess, MD, MS, emphasized the importance of being transparent about a variety of topics but particularly finances if we are to remedy this matter.

As the panel closed out with an audience Q&A session, one attendee asked the speakers, "Is there anything you would do differently?" Karen Paisley, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, said the only thing she would change is learning more about imposter syndrome and how to overcome it much earlier, as it holds us back more than we realize sometimes and is something she still grapples with from time to time today.

If you could not attend or would like to rewatch, a recording will be available on the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion YouTube channel on the WiHMS playlist. The next WiHMS' sponsored event will be a webinar on Wednesday, March 1st, as part of Women's Week 2023: Making Public Policy Personal. Registration will be opening in early February. Stay tuned to sign up.