A symposium sponsored by UB DoctHERS, a networking group whose goal is advancing women in medical or scientific education and careers, is being held Saturday morning. The event is sponsored by UB DoctHERS, a networking group whose goal is to advance women in medical education, medicine and science.
The symposium will feature Roswell Park Cancer Institute CEO Candace Johnson, who was the only woman in her doctoral program in the 1970s, as the keynote speaker.
Rose Berkun is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and one of the symposium moderators. She told WBFO that while women graduate from medical school at close to the same rate as men, those numbers do not mean equal career opportunities.
“The percentages of women in highly competitive specialties are miserable," Berkun said. "Orthopedic surgery: 5.6 percent—this is as of 2010 or 2012—were women. Neurology: 8.7 percent. Vascular surgery: 12 percent. EMTs: 17 percent. General surgery: Twenty-one percent. And it keeps going on and on.”
Berkun said she believes women are conditioned not to fight for better careers post-graduation.
“Psychologically, women are raised, I guess, to wait to be asked. We’re asked on a date, we’ll wait to be asked to go to prom, and just naturally, we go through life waiting. So we feel that if we’re doing a good job, we will be promoted, we won’t have to ask for it. And I think that’s a big negative,” Berkun said.
Berkun said a lack of role models and mentors promoting intellectual and scientific careers has been a big problem—one that UB DoctHERS aims to solve.
“That’s one of the goals of our network—to provide guidance and mentorship. The mentors, they’re very open and they’re willing to answer any question from their own experience and their expertise and guide younger physicians, younger girls into—making it easier for them and showing them anything is possible,” Berkun said.
The symposium is being held at the Westin Buffalo. Tickets for the event are sold out.