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Three Women, One Goal: Changing Minds and Advancing Careers for Women in Radiology

Industry and academia have had an enduring partnership in radiology, most often leveraging academic research to develop solutions that benefit both patients and society. LEAD (Leading Empowering and Disrupting) is nurturing a unique aspect of industry and academia collaborations in radiology -- the career development needs of women executives and academics.

In 2018, only 23.1% of radiologists were women[1] and women occupied only 30% of high-level leadership positions in the healthcare industry. Women held roughly only 13% of all CEO positions. Noting this disparity, the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments (SCARD) and GE Healthcare established LEAD to change these statistics. The year-long program focuses on leadership and mentorship through monthly learning tasks, designated mentors, professional development workshops, and live networking sessions.

Celebrating the graduation of LEAD’s inaugural class, three participants took time to speak with Insights about their experiences. Each highlighted the unexpected discovery of common ground in shared challenges facing academics and corporate executives, and the opportunities to elevate women in the radiology field.  They illustrate that despite diverse backgrounds, their professional experiences couldn’t be more alike and the need to drive change couldn’t be more urgent.  The LEAD graduates include Dr. Miriam Bredella, Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Director of the Center for Faculty Development at Massachusetts General Hospital, Tracy Sunday, GE Healthcare Client Director for Service Outcomes, and Dr. Shlomit Goldberg-Stein, Associate Professor of Radiology and the Director of Musculoskeletal Intervention at Montefiore Medical Center.   

What do you think women from industry and academia can learn from one another?

Dr. Bredella: Business is much quicker to adapt to change.  They’re more innovative, use more technology and are more structured and organized versus academia which is slower to change. 

Ms. Sunday: Resourcefulness.  Academics do a lot more with a lot less, never giving up and finding workarounds to get what they need to drive change. I was very impressed by that skill set.

Dr. Goldberg-Stein: In industry there is a deliberate strategy to cultivate great leaders, which I think is somewhat lacking in both infrastructure and focus within academia. Through conversations at the LEAD program early on, I learned that despite this, women in both business and academia share similar challenges in getting a seat at the table.  

Have the skills you’ve learned in LEAD helped you alleviate or better overcome some of the challenges women face in the workplace?

Dr. Bredella: All of the skills were helpful. For example “branding” was something I had never considered in academia, but really the learning from the other women was the most important part with the discovery that we all face the same problems. We are almost like a little family – we’ll always have this amazing connection. 

Ms. Sunday: The training on empowerment helped me because I was moving into a new role and needed to advocate for myself to ensure I was positioned for success.

Dr. Goldberg-Stein: LEAD provided dedicated training in areas that are known to affect the careers of women in radiology such as negotiation and branding, and how to combat microaggressions and unconscious bias. I also learned powerful lessons from Dr. Cannon on emotional competence and how to exercise it. 

What is the most valuable takeaway or piece of advice from your experience?

Dr. Bredella: I did not really think it would produce these lasting friendships and relationships.  I now have a group of people to rely on.

Ms. Sunday: Don’t ever doubt yourself, understand your value, and make sure you’re empowered to share that value.

Dr. Goldberg-Stein: Leadership is really just about people. Because of the relationships we have built, many of us now serve on each other’s personal board of directors. The network of new friends and colleagues was the most valuable takeaway from LEAD.

How do you plan to activate what you’ve learned from LEAD and the connections you’ve made?

Dr. Bredella: Do more, be a role model for other women and apply for leadership positions, because I think it’s important to see more women there.  And get advice and support from the other LEAD women I met.

Ms. Sunday: Help share what I’ve learned in LEAD.  A radiologist and I are planning a symposium for 200 women in radiology.

Dr. Goldberg-Stein: Bringing back what I’ve learned directly to my teams. I’m also working on a hospital-wide capstone project on diversity and inclusion to support mentoring for residents and junior faculty.

What advice can you offer to women early in their careers in the healthcare industry or radiology?

Dr. Bredella:  A lot of women have imposter syndrome, but they absolutely deserve to be where they are and should be confident in letting other people know.

Ms. Sunday: There are so many opportunities. Make sure you find what you love. Explore until you find your passion.

Dr. Goldberg-Stein: Be the change – men and women have to be the change and

this is possible at any level in your career even in raising awareness and having these conversations early on.

 

1.Women Continue to be Underrepresented in Radiology Workforce Throughout US. Radiology Business. https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/quality/women-continue-be-underrepresented-radiology-workforce-throughout-us. Accessed March 4, 2020.