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Women in Pathology

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This May, the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) celebrated its second annual Women in Pathology Month. 

Women in Pathology is a community within the membership of the ASIP that is focused on issues that face women in science, and is committed to recognizing women’s scientific achievements and fostering their career development and advancement in pathobiology research. Women in Pathology addresses challenges for women in science at every stage of career and life – as trainees, as active biomedical researchers, during transitions into career breaks required for family life, during transitions back into professional life as a mother, and as advanced investigators. Women in Pathology provides innovative opportunities for engagement by women in science to participate in productive networking, development of meaningful professional partnerships, and mentoring.

Women in Pathology is led by a diverse group of scientists: Dr. Pilar Alcaide (Tufts University), Dr. Jennifer Sanders (Brown University), Nakisha Rutledge (Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University), and Dr. Francisco Carrillo-Salinas (Tufts University). 

"Women in Pathology is modeled after other women scientist-focused groups such as Women in Cancer Research (associated with the American Association for Cancer Research), Women in Stem, and others," says Dr. Pilar Alcaide. "The ASIP has put tremendous focus on women over the last few decades, recognizing that we need to cultivate opportunities for women to succeed in research, to recognize the research achievements of our women scientists, and to acknowledge the excellent work of this group in various ways. This group is a community among our membership. The senior women tend to mentor the younger members and the trainee members."

AlcaideDr. Pilar Alcaide. Image courtesy of ASIP. 

To achieve the objective of recognizing ASIP's women scientist members and their achievements in research, the team discussed using Member Spotlights to highlight individual women members.

"From this idea came the concept of declaring a Women in Pathology Month, where we would feature a different woman member each day of the month," Dr. Alcaide told Voicebrook. "We began this tradition in 2020 and chose May since this was the month following our Annual Meeting (and also the month of Mother’s Day). With the timing of Women in Pathology in May, we are able to feature women who receive meritorious awards at our Annual Meeting and women that have been elected into the leadership. Our featured members range from trainees to the most senior members of the Society."

Dr. Alcide believes it's critical for all scientists (both women and men) to feel recognized and supported, and the recognition and support received can promote future success. She says women face unique challenges in their careers, making their accomplishments all the more notable.

"We are very proud of our young women members for their early career accomplishments and promise of bright futures. We are proud of our mid-career women who are successful despite the significant challenges of adding motherhood to the highly competitive world of research, and we are proud of our women members who are senior scientists for their exceptional productivity and contributions to progress in many areas of disease research. We want our trainee members to see the mid-career and senior women members as role models for their own careers, and we want to hold our women scientists up as examples of exceptionalism without gender qualification," says Dr. Alcide.

To that end, Women in Pathology has harnessed the power of social media to increase their reach and influence. The group has a vibrant presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. "Social media is very important in all of our Society communications," says Dr. Francisco Carrillo-Salinas. "It affords us several channels of communication with our own members to keep them informed of what we are doing and opportunities for them to participate. It is also an exceptional conduit to reach people who are outside of our own ASIP membership, as well as people all around the globe. Its an effective communication tool and a way to identify new opportunities for collaboration and partnership."

The Women in Pathology group offers workshops on professional development such as confident leadership,  balancing career demands, and managing the inner critic.  In addition, they offer networking events, mentorship, and opportunities to promote research and gain leadership experience. 

The next planned event is "Beyond the Bench," a networking opportunity scheduled for mid-June.

WIP upcoming

Now that ASIP's Women in Pathology group is well-established and making progress as a community of scientists with shared interests and experiences, the leadership team looks forward to attacking the issues of the day regarding career challenges and providing strategies for overcoming these challenges in everyday life. Dr. Alcide says they look forward to expanding their woman scientist membership and to continue to expand the community within the Society and within the field of research science at-large.

"We want to expand our support for women scientists and our programs for their career advancement and education, through virtual events and face-to-face meetings," she says. "Women in Pathology Month will continue to serve as a focal point of the year where we can brighten the spotlight on our women members and use that time to increase awareness of this exceptional group."