Female STEM Professionals Honored in Male-Dominated Field

Comments on gender and science from Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD, the Scientific Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute and a research scientist with more than two decades of experience at the bench.

Slaugenhaupt was recently named a Woman to Watch in Boston’s science and technology community by the Boston Business Journal.

Award winner Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD, a professor in the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, has worked toward uncovering a therapy for a rare genetic disease. Slaugenhaupt, however, has a more hopeful perspective on the lack of female leaders in the field. She said she believes that being a minority in this workforce
might be more of a generational problem.

“Take a look at a junior faculty at medical school — it’s about 50-50 males and females,” Slaugenhaupt said. “It’s as you climb up the ladder that women fall off.”

Slaugenhaupt said she thinks there will be a higher level of gender equality within the workforce as generations progress. For example, she said her son doesn’t know why people think it’s amazing that a woman is running for office.

“There’s no difference in the ability to be excellent between men and women,” Slaugenhaupt said. “What’s different are resources that are given to men, time that’s given to men.”

As these women represent a changing culture of female leadership in science and technology, it is not their gender that should be the topic of conversation, Slaugenhaupt said. It is their excellence.

“I do think that it’s important that women has been notoriously at a disadvantage,” she said, “but that we shouldn’t bypass scientific excellence in pursuit of equality.”

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