Do You Know Her? Nominate Her for a FMWC Award

2017 FMWC award recipients, from left to right: Dr. Anne Wong, Chair, Awards Committee; Danusha Jebanesan, Student Leadership Award; Monica Olsen, Honorary Member; Dr. Janet Dollin, May Cohen Award; Dr. Pamela Liao, Margaret Owen-Waite Memorial Fund; Dr. Beverly Johnson, President, FMWC.

Every year the Federation of Medical Women of Canada gather for their Annual General Meeting and Conference. It’s always an uplifting event, but one of the more inspiring components of the meeting is the Awards Luncheon where we recognize the achievements of outstanding women physicians and MD students from across the country. You can find short bios of the 2017 recipients here.

The practice of medicine is difficult yet incredibly rewarding work. No one enters into medicine to be a “star” but to serve the needs of their patients and communities. It can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting, but the opportunity to save lives and help others live more full and complete lives is one physicians feel privileged to share in.

The Federation of Medical Women of Canada began in 1924 during a Canadian Medical Association meeting when 6 pioneering women doctors: Maude Abbott, Elizabeth Bagshaw, Elizabeth Embury, Janet Hall, Helen MacMurchy and Jennie Smillie recognized a need for women physicians to band together in support of each other. Several of the women who founded the FMWC were the “firsts” of their time. Dr.Embury was the first woman to graduate medicine in Canada. Dr. Smillie was the first female surgeon in Canada. Dr. Bagshaw was involved in establishing the first birth control clinic in Canada. What achievements!

Despite successful efforts at increasing gender parity in medicine there is still some way to go before unconscious bias or outright sexist attitudes are eliminated, according to research by Julie Silver, et al. Writing in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Silver and her team examined the history of award granting at the American Association of Psychiatrists, a medicine-supported academic society. They found that over the 27 years of the history of the organization, only 20 per cent of awards, overall, went to women, and, more importantly, there was a decrease over the last 10 years compared to the previous 17 years. No awards were given in any category to women in the years between 2013-16 and none in 3 categories over the last 10, despite the numbers of women in the profession increasing over the same time period. Silver attributes possible causes to the homogeneous composition of selection committees (male), the pipeline theory has been “cited and disputed” and suggested that given the sparse data the cause is likely multifactorial and called for more investigation.

An important function of the Federation is the public recognition of the work that women physicians do, particularly those who advance the careers and well-being of other women physicians and women’s health in general. To that end, a number of awards have been established over the 93 years of the Federation’s existence. You can find out more about each of the awards at the Awards page on the FWMC website.

We’re looking to honour women physicians and those that support them. We want to hear from you in response to our questions: Do you know her?

Then Nominate Her. Let’s make 2017 a record year for award nominations. We know you her. We want to know her too.