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Fourth Annual Women in Science and Healthcare (WiSH) Symposium
The university’s 4th Annual Women in Science and Healthcare (WiSH) Symposium, held Sept. 12, put the subject of sexual harassment under the microscope.
This year’s event focused on #MeToo and #TimesUp in academia, research and healthcare professions, and how these movements have exposed the widespread impact of sexual harassment on victims’ mental health and career advancement.
"We take the subject of sexual harassment very seriously at the university," said RFU trustee Rosalind Franklin, CPCC, ACC, who delivered the event’s opening remarks. "Intentionally expressing our commitment to equality as we elevate the questioning of our biases for ourselves and our institution is critical to counter the status quo." She also noted the importance of university initiatives facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, such as the “I Ask” campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence and prevention, and community conversations for students, faculty and staff about respect and social issues.
Veronica Arreola, MPA, director of the Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, delivered a keynote speech that addressed sexual harassment and the reasons why people don’t report it, as well as how to minimize the chance of harassment occurring in classrooms and laboratories.
"The academic workplace has the second-highest rate of sexual harassment, at 58 percent. Only the military has a higher rate," Ms. Arreola said, citing a 2018 report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on sexual harassment of women in science, engineering and medicine. Making academic spaces free from harassment will require thinking "about learning spaces as workplaces — teaching respect for each other as colleagues should be just as important as how to perform surgery, or run a gel," she said.
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion on "Sexual/Gender Harassment in Science and Healthcare." Participants included Ronald Kaplan, PhD, RFU executive vice president for research and interim dean, Chicago Medical School; Brenda Affinati, MD, vice chair of clinical sciences, CMS; Tamekia Scott, EdD, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, RFU; Jenna Kuczek, SCPM ’22; and panel moderator Lise Eliot, PhD, executive chair of foundational sciences and humanities, CMS. Dr. Eliot and Rea Katz, PhD, PA-C, associate vice president of RFU faculty development, co-organized this year’s symposium, with support from event coordinators James Mote, executive administrative assistant, RFU Academic Affairs, and Nichole Ulibarri, undergraduate medical education specialist, CMS, and the WiSH Symposium advisory committee.